Conference Coverage

New IASLC declaration targets tobacco use among cancer patients



– All cancer patients should be screened for tobacco use and advised about the benefits of tobacco cessation, and evidence-based tobacco cessation assistance should be provided to those who continue using tobacco, according to a new declaration from the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).

Dr. Jacek Jassem, professor and head of the Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy at the Medical University of Gdansk, Poland Sharon Worcester/ MDedge News

Dr. Jacek Jassem

Such assistance should be “routinely and integrally incorporated into multidisciplinary cancer care for the patients and their family members,” according to the declaration, which was developed by the IASLC Tobacco Control and Smoking Cessation Committee in part to increase physician involvement in tobacco control and was officially released at the World Conference on Lung Cancer.

“The consequences of smoking continuation by cancer patients and cancer survivors are many,” presenting author Jacek Jassem, MD, PhD, professor and head of the department of oncology and radiotherapy at the Medical University of Gdansk (Poland), said during a press conference at the meeting, which is sponsored by the IASLC.

Smoking after a cancer diagnosis increases cancer-related and overall mortality, the risk of developing additional cancers, and the risk of treatment toxicity, he explained.

“And of course [continued smoking is] associated with much higher treatment costs, mostly due to complications,” he added.

The IASLC addresses both the challenges and opportunities associated with tobacco cessation, including the fact that most cancer patients who smoke continue to do so during and after treatment and that health care providers often don’t provide patients with cessation assistance to help them quit.

In addition to the screening and tobacco cessation assistance recommendations, the declaration also states the following:

  • Educational programs regarding cancer management should include tobacco cessation training, empathetic communication around the history of tobacco use and cessation, and utilization of existing evidence-based tobacco cessation resources.
  • Smoking cessation counseling and treatment should be a reimbursable service.
  • Smoking status, both initially and during the study, should be a required data element for all prospective clinical studies.
  • Clinical trials of patients with cancer should consider designs that could also determine the most effective tobacco cessation interventions.

Dr. Jassem is on the speakers bureau for MSD, Takeda, BMS, Astra-Zeneca, and Pfizer.

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