Clinical guidelines for generalized smoking cessation intervention strategies from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are available, but the diagnosis of cancer presents complex physical and emotional challenges to applying tools in the guidelines to cancer patients who smoke. For example, certain pharmacotherapies may be contraindicated or co-morbidities, such as depression and/or alcohol use, must be taken into account. Targeted interventions have been designed to combine elements of behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy, but only a few studies exist assessing their efficacy. Another shortfall is that these studies, with one exception, target smokers with smoking-related cancers. The common finding was that the healthcare provider has a significant impact on smoking cessation rates. Interventions may have greater impact if begun soon after diagnosis.
Among the authors' recommendations, future studies should be designed to "determine individual barriers to smoking cessation among cancer patients" and treatment trials should "include patients with non-smoking-related cancers." The authors conclude: "cancer patients who are able to stop smoking and remain abstinent after diagnosis and treatment are likely to reap substantial physical and psychological benefits, including improved QOL and prolonged survival."