A new study shows that a multifaceted approach to quitting smoking can help patients diagnosed with cancer.
One rare type of cancer is mesothelioma. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. It occurs in the lining of different parts of your body, usually in the abdomen or the lungs.
Mesothelioma often takes decades to develop after being exposed to asbestos. The symptoms can be hard to diagnose because they look like other, more common diseases. This makes treating mesothelioma more difficult, too. The cancer has more time to spread while doctors are struggling to make a diagnosis.
There are other factors that make cancers like mesothelioma difficult to treat. Smoking after a cancer diagnosis can lead to worse survival outcomes. The cancer treatments do not work effectively, and your health can decline more quickly.
This means it is important for cancer patients to quit smoking. But giving up this habit can be very hard for long-time smokers. There are some services available to patients to help them quit smoking, but we don’t always know which services will work the best.
The goal of this study was to figure out which services to quit smoking would work best for cancer patients.
What Worked Best?
The study authors looked at 23 published studies that included data on different programs to quit smoking.
Some key interventions were long-term use of medication, national quitting programs, quitting apps, counselling, and an opt-out referral system.
Patients who were using these programs to quit smoking struggled with pain, fatigue, guilt, and lack of confidence.
The study authors were able to identify some factors that helped patients to quit smoking. Having a lot of conversations about quitting with their doctors was a helpful factor. Patients who received counselling while they were quitting smoking were more successful with breaking this habit.
Patients also benefitted from using a drug called varenicline for up to 6 months. Varenicline is a pill that stops the addictive part of smoking from reaching your brain.
This study concluded that using more than one type of program or tool to quit smoking was the best approach. A personalized plan to quit smoking would support cancer patients in improving their health during treatment.
Frazer K, Bhardwaj N, Fox P, et al. Smoking cessation interventions for smokers diagnosed with cancer: a systematic review. Lancet. 2022;400 Suppl 1:S39. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(22)02249-8