The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) have launched a guideline for Smoking Cessation in Cancer Patients , outlining the essential need for smoking cessation care in Australian Oncology Health Services, and the need for oncologists to show leadership in improving this area of Australia’s cancer care.
Smoking tobacco almost triples the risk of death among Australians, and for those cancer patients who continue smoking after a diagnosis, there are negative impacts on treatment outcomes, with a higher likelihood of recurrence and lower survival rate, as it significantly increases the risk of death with a five-year relative mortality of 30%.
A cancer diagnosis can provide both a motivating factor and a barrier to quitting smoking, and qualitative research has identified three key themes to explain why cancer patients continue to smoke, including the stress experienced following a diagnosis, a desire to maintain personal control and a lack of coherence around smoking, cancer and health.
There is a significant need to provide greater support to help smokers quit following a cancer diagnosis, as this is such a vital time in their cancer care, and it can have a significant impact on a patients’ treatment outcomes.
Smoking cessation care should be implemented from the initial patient visit and offered at all stages of the cancer care continuum, and there needs to be a focus on being sensitive to the stigma attached to a cancer diagnosis in smokers, to assist patients to quit. The COSA paper explains that oncology clinicians are not expected to deliver multi-session behavioural interventions themselves (unless they are trained and want to) but to provide brief advice – Ask if they are a smoker, Advise about the best way to quit, Help all smokers to access cessation support.
For more information, view the full Position Statement.