08:48am Saturday 18 January 2020

New ASCO Resources Help Oncology Providers and Their Patients Cease Tobacco Use

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is helping oncologists address a difficult, but important issue with their cancer patients – tobacco use. According to ASCO, patients need to know it’s never too late to quit, and oncologists have a responsibility to their patients to carry that message.  

Today, ASCO released a new set of resources to help oncology providers integrate tobacco cessation counseling and treatment services into practice. The resources include a provider guide and a patient guide, detailing immediate steps patients can take to help quit tobacco use. These resources are part of ASCO’s efforts to promote the reduction in tobacco use and ultimate elimination of tobacco caused disease. Early next year, the Society will also issue an updated policy statement on tobacco control and cessation as well as the results of a national survey on oncologists’ attitudes and behaviors regarding patient counseling on tobacco use. 

“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests tobacco use by cancer patients can complicate a wide variety of treatments, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery,” said Carolyn Dresler, MD, MPA, chair of ASCO’s Subcommittee on Tobacco Cessation and medical director for the Arkansas Department of Health. “However, patients already diagnosed with cancer can still benefit greatly from quitting tobacco use. As oncology providers, we have a responsibility to help our patients with tobacco cessation strategies in order to reduce complications and improve patient outcomes.”

ASCO’s new Tobacco Cessation Guide for Oncology Providers is an evidence-based resource for clinicians to use in educating their patients about the negative effects of tobacco on cancer treatment outcomes and to help patients quit. Developed by a multidisciplinary group of cancer and tobacco cessation experts, this guide is intended to help oncology providers integrate tobacco cessation strategies into their patient care.

An important goal of the provider guide is to help oncologists and other cancer care providers become more comfortable in addressing the topic of tobacco use with their patients. Many oncologists believe it is the role of the primary care provider to address tobacco use. However, patients can benefit from tobacco cessation counseling from all health care providers.

“Physicians, including oncologists, need tools and resources to help their patients quit. We have an obligation to help them help their patients,” said K. Michael Cummings, PhD, member of ASCO’s Tobacco Control Subcommittee and Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center. “We need to be able to treat the whole patient, not just his or her cancer.”

ASCO’s new patient guide, Stopping Tobacco Use After a Cancer Diagnosis, aims to educate patients and their caregivers on the benefits of quitting tobacco use even after a cancer diagnosis. The patient guide offers a list of questions to help patients identify which cessation strategy is right for them; a form to  develop a personalized plan to quit; and a list of helpful resources including 1-800 numbers, websites, and mobile apps related to tobacco cessation.

While cigarette consumption has fallen over the previous decade in the U.S., a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed a 123 percent increase in the consumption of other smokable tobacco products such as cigars and pipes in the U.S.  Another recent study showed that nearly half of all men and more than 1 in 10 women use tobacco in many developing countries, and women are starting to smoke at earlier ages. If current trends continue, some groups have estimated that tobacco use could kill a billion people around the world in this century.

“Oncology providers are confronted everyday with the harsh realities of tobacco induced illness as they work with their patients so they have a vital role to play in working to curb tobacco use,” said Dr. Cummings. “If we can help our patients makes steps towards quitting tobacco use, then we can improve the health of our patients and their families.”


Contact: Amanda Narod

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