More than a quarter of cancer survivors who still smoke have not been advised to quit smoking by their health care providers in the last year, according to a study published by researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center in the current issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. The findings suggest that health care providers from doctors to dentists to nurses are missing an opportunity to make a dramatic difference in the quality of life of their patients.
"While smoking cessation is difficult, it can play an important role in increasing cancer survivors' quality of life," says the paper's lead author Elliot Coups, Ph.D., former associate member of Fox Chase Cancer Center's faculty and a participant in the Fox Chase Keystone Program in Cancer Risk and Prevention. "Time and again, studies have shown that people really do listen to what is said at the doctor's office in regards to smoking, so health care providers need to take advantage of this teachable moment."
According to Coups, an associate professor of medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, who recently joined the Division of Public Health Science at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the harmful effects of smoking have an important impact on cancer survivors. Smoking is known to adversely affect survivors' quality of life, lower their projected life-spans, and to increase their risk for cardiovascular disease, as well as second, unrelated cancers.
"With improvements in cancer medicine, we are seeing a growing population of cancer survivors who are returning to their primary physicians with their unique medical issues," says Carolyn Heckman, Ph.D., assistant professor at Fox Chase Cancer Center and a co-author of the study. "Smoking cessation, in particular, needs to be addressed at every visit with a health care provider."
Coups and his colleagues drew the data for this study from 1,825 participants in the 2005 National Health Interview Su
|Contact: Greg Lester|
Fox Chase Cancer Center