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Smoking in Cancer Care (PDQ®)

Health Professional Version

Key Points

  • Continued smoking substantially increases the likelihood of recurrence or occurrence of a second cancer in survivors, particularly in those who received radiation therapy.
  • Most patients with smoking-related cancer appear motivated to quit smoking at the time of diagnosis.
  • A stepped-care approach to quitting is recommended, with strong physician advice and brief counseling to quit and provision of basic information to all patients at each contact during the first month of diagnosis, followed by more intensive treatment (pharmacologic and counseling by a smoking specialist) for those having difficulty quitting or remaining abstinent.
  • Patients can be carefully matched to specific smoking cessation strategies. Some smokers can quit with the help of counseling or psychological interventions, while others might need nicotine replacement therapies. Some smokers might need medications to successfully quit smoking. Given the significant health benefits derived from smoking cessation, medications can be used in these patients with careful monitoring.
  • Updated: June 20, 2014