Drs. Ben Solomon, Leora Horn, & Jack West review impressive data demonstrating a striking survival improvement from successful efforts at smoking cessation among smokers undergoing lung cancer CT screening.
Medications to help people quit smoking are typically recommended as an early intervention, and over the past several years these have included nicotine replacement such as a patch or gum, or sustained release buproprion (zyban), and now chantix, with evidence supporting it as a leading effective option, as described in my prior post. The FDA has also approved these options for smoking cessation. Specifically, chantix is approved for people who have not received prior treatment to help them quit smoking, or in those who have tried another method unsuccessfully.
Although we’ve established that 60% or more of the new cases of lung cancer in the US each year are now in never-smokers or former smokers, active smoking is still a big problem. Ongoing smoking can worsen survival in patients receiving active treatment for lung cancer, and the risk of developing lung cancer in people who don’t have it already can be decreased significantly by quitting smoking as early as possible (see
Though the topic of never-smokers with lung cancer is a particular focus of my interest and research, and there has been a greater focus on this topic in the last few years, most lung cancer is still related to smoking. However, we have clearly reached a point where the majority of people diagnosed with lung cancer are not current smokers at the time of their diagnosis, and about 60% have quit at some point. Many of these patients, and their families and friends, express surprise that they developed lung cancer, especially if someone had quit 20 or 30 years prior.
In Seattle, we just had an evening program for lung cancer awareness that included issues in lung cancer largely focused on rectifying the disparity in lung cancer funding and awareness compared with other cancers, but also on tobacco control and screening. One of the talks was by a pulmonologist colleague from the University of Washington, Dr. Jason Chien, who highlighted several notable points on smoking patterns and how they are related to risk of lung cancer.
I asked Dr. Carolyn Dresler, a terrific expert on nicotine addiction and smoking cessation, to write a general post on how to approach quitting. She's actually a lung surgeon who also obtained a Masters in Public Health and now works as Branch Chief for the Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program for the Arkansas State Governent. She is deeply committed to helping people, and I think she'd also be illing to answer questions people may leave. Here's her guest post:
This week, the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the US National Academy of Sciences, released a 400-page comprehensive report (