The Importance of Smoking Cessation for Cancer Patients: Every Conversation Matters

Lauren Hutton from Extend Pharmacy, a pharmacy designed for cancer care, often encounters patients who respond with skepticism when discussing smoking cessation in the context of their cancer diagnosis. Statements like “I already have cancer. Quitting smoking isn’t going to do anything for me now, so why bother?” can initially be disarming. However, armed with valuable information, we can keep the conversation open, informative, and potentially life-changing for patients impacted by cancer who smoke or use other forms of tobacco products.

Continue reading to discover some “script tips” that can help healthcare professionals address these concerns and encourage smoking cessation among cancer patients.

Improve Cancer Treatment Outcomes:

One of the most compelling reasons to quit smoking is the significant improvement it can bring to cancer treatment outcomes. Studies have shown that smoking cessation can enhance treatment effectiveness by 30 to 50%, reducing the risks of all-cause death, cancer-related death, and disease progression. If a new medication offered these benefits, it would undoubtedly make front-page news.

Reduce Cancer Treatment Side Effects:

Patients who quit smoking or vaping have reported improvements in their overall well-being and reduced side effects of cancer treatment. For instance, individuals with prostate cancer have experienced enhanced energy levels, better sleep, reduced shortness of breath, and fewer hot flashes. Smoking can also worsen side effects such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, making smoking cessation an important consideration.

Decrease Risk of Secondary Cancers:

Smoking is an independent risk factor associated with over 15 types of cancer. By quitting smoking, cancer patients can significantly reduce their chances of developing secondary cancers, protecting their long-term health and well-being.

Minimize Drug Interactions:

Tobacco products can interact with medications, including those used in cancer treatment. Understanding these potential drug interactions is crucial to ensure optimal treatment outcomes.

Informative Resources:

To further educate healthcare professionals and empower them to support patients with smoking cessation, the Journal of Clinical Oncology has an engaging podcast dedicated to the topic. This 13-minute podcast summarizes recent articles on clinical outcomes, novel smoking interventions, and tobacco treatment program implementation in cancer survivors who quit smoking. Additionally, the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) offers a free course on smoking cessation for patients with cancer, enabling healthcare professionals to delve deeper into the subject.

Engaging in conversations about smoking cessation with cancer patients is crucial, even if they initially express doubt or skepticism. By sharing the benefits of quitting smoking, healthcare professionals can positively impact treatment outcomes, reduce side effects, minimize the risk of secondary cancers, and optimize medication effectiveness. Remember, every conversation matters and contributes to a safe, non-judgmental space for patients to consider smoking cessation.

Let’s continue the work of discussing smoking cessation with our patients and promoting their overall well-being and recovery.

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