Evaluation of a Dedicated Tobacco Cessation Support Service for Thoracic Cancer Center Patients

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Cancer patients' continued tobacco use results in poorer therapeutic outcomes including decreased quality of life and survival.


To assess reach and impact of a free, opt-out, telephone-based tobacco cessation program for thoracic cancer center patients.


Observational study.


Comprehensive Cancer Center in Western New York.


Current or recent (within past 30 days) tobacco-using thoracic cancer center patients referred to a tobacco cessation support service between October 2010 and October 2012 at a Comprehensive Cancer Center (n = 942/1313 referrals were eligible for cessation support).


A free, opt-out, telephone-based cessation service that was implemented as standard of care. Cessation specialists had patient-guided conversations that assessed readiness to quit; methods used in the past provided cessation strategies and worked to set up a quit date. There was an average of 35.9 days between referral and first contact.

Main Outcome Measures:

Program reach (referral and participation rates) and impact (as self-reported cessation outcomes measured twice after referral).


Of 942 patients, 730 (77.5%) referred to and called by a tobacco cessation service participated in at least 1 cessation support call, of which 440 of 730 (60.3%) were called for follow-up and 89.5% (394/440) participated. In total, 20.2% (69/342) of current smokers at referral reported at least 7-day abstinence at follow-up. Among current smokers at referral and first contact, being married (odds ratio [OR] = 2.05; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01-4.18) and having a lower Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance score (OR = 4.05; 95% CI, 1.58-10.39) were associated with quitting at follow-up, after controlling for demographic, clinical, and health behavior characteristics.


Our results demonstrate that 78% of thoracic cancer center patients, if contacted, participated at least once in this cessation support service; for current smokers at referral and first contact, being married and having a lower ECOG performance score were associated with self-reported quitting at follow-up. Other organizations may find our results useful while implementing a systematic way to identify tobacco-using patients as part of routine care and to improve available cessation support services.

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