Cancer patients who quit smoking before surgery are less likely to relapse, study finds

Researchers from the Moffitt Cancer Center have found that when a cancer patient quits smoking can be a factor in his or her success rate, reports ScienceDaily. The study, published in the journal Cancer, examined potential predictors of smoking relapse among patients at Moffitt who had either quit smoking just before surgery or immediately after. The researchers followed up with participants in two-month intervals for one year.

According to Vani Nath Simmons, the study’s corresponding author and assistant member of the Health Outcomes and Behavior Program at Moffitt:

We found that relapse rates varied significantly depending on a patient’s pre-surgery smoking status. … Sixty percent of patients who smoked during the week prior to surgery resumed smoking afterward, contrasted with a 13 percent relapse rate for those who had quit smoking prior to surgery.”

Additional factors that predicted relapse included a strong fear that their cancer would recur, a higher propensity for depression and a lack of confidence in his or her ability to quit smoking. 

The authors suggest that a better understanding of relapse predictors will help guide smoking cessation and relapse prevention interventions, and recommend that providers offer smoking cessation services both before and immediately after surgery.

The Polaris Oncology Distress Management System includes a brief screen for tobacco use and referral generator for those patients who continue to smoke. Patients are provided with referrals for smoking cessation programs that are tailored to their insurance status and zip code. Prior Polaris research has shown that providing this type of information increases the likelihood that a patient will seek help. 

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