NEW YORK--People often continue to smoke even after a diagnosis of cancer, Jamie Ostroff, PhD, said at a symposium on tobacco control at the Third World Congress of Psycho-Oncology.
"We hear time and time again from these patients, why should I bother quitting? I already have cancer," she said. "Clearly, these perceptions and myths about the lack of benefit of smoking cessation after a cancer diagnosis persist in patients, families, and even some health care personnel."
Dr. Ostroff pointed out that continued smoking after a cancer diagnosis is associated with a higher risk of disease recurrence, second primary tumors, numerous treatment complications, and mortality. The increasing survival rates in many cancers further underscore the need for intervention among the newly diagnosed, she said.
Looking for a 'Teachable Moment'
Dr. Ostroff and her colleagues at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center are planning a prospective study of recently diagnosed cancer patients to determine if there is a "teachable moment" for smoking cessation.
"Health care personnel commonly ask if we should strike while the iron is hot or wait until patients are more comfortable and a little less overwhelmed by their disease," she said.
The upcoming study will seek to answer that question by exploring a number of different issues: What are the patterns of smoking cessation after diagnosis? Which patients are most likely to continue smoking? How long is the teachable moment? Does the teachable moment also apply to smokers within the patient's social and family network?