Cancer Patients Unlikely to Seek Help to Quit Smoking

Younger patients with early-stage disease more likely to express interest in quitting

FRIDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Although most patients diagnosed with cancer report receiving advice to quit smoking, less than half of them actually express an interest in joining a smoking cessation program, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in Cancer.

Mary E. Cooley, R.N., Ph.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues investigated whether patients diagnosed with lung or head and neck cancer received advice and support from their health care providers to quit smoking, and their subsequent interest and preferences for participating in cessation programs. Data were collected from questionnaires and medical-record reviews from 160 smokers or recent quitters with lung or head and neck cancer.

The researchers found that 86 percent of smokers and 75 percent of recent quitters reported that they were advised to quit smoking by health care providers. They also found that 65 percent of smokers and 47 percent of recent quitters were offered help from their health care providers to quit smoking. Thirty-three percent of the sample expressed an interest in joining a program to help them quit (51 percent of smokers and 20 percent of recent quitters). Younger patients with early-stage disease and those with partners who were smokers showed a greater interest in smoking cessation programs.

"Although the majority of patients received advice and were offered assistance to quit smoking, approximately 50 percent of smokers were interested in cessation programs. Innovative approaches to increase interest in cessation programs need to be developed and tested in this population," the authors write.

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