Smokers Who Get Lung Cancer Screenings Should Also Be Encouraged to Quit, Researchers Say

Smokers Who Get Lung Cancer Screenings Should Also Be Encouraged to Quit, Researchers Say

Experts say smokers who visit a clinician for lung cancer screening should also be encouraged to quit smoking at their appointment, according to a recent article titled “Pairing smoking-cessation services with lung cancer screening: A clinical guideline from the Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence and the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco,” published in the journal Cancer.

Smoking cessation is critical to reduce the risk of cancer, as well as premature death. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended annual lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved lung screening for patients ages 55 to 77 who have a 30 pack-year smoking history.

While lung cancer screening is an opportunity to encourage smokers to quit, the Task Force does not offer specific guidelines on how smoking-cessation treatment should be offered in conjunction with the screening.

“We are very happy about this task force recommendation and the approval of lung cancer screening as a benefit by CMS. Lung screening with low dose CT will save many lives by detecting lung cancer at earlier, treatable stages,” Benjamin A. Toll, Ph.D., associate professor of public health at the Medical University of South Carolina, said in a recent news release.

“However, it is critical that we provide tobacco treatment in conjunction with lung screening. Most patients will not have lung cancer, and we do not want this to be perceived as a free pass to smoke. We also wanted to highlight the multiple benefits of smoking cessation,” he said.

“Moreover, research by my colleague and co-director, Dr. Nichole Tanner, convincingly shows that lung cancer risk is reduced even further when you combine lung cancer screening with smoking cessation,” Toll added.

The Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco and the Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence developed the new guideline and presented evidence on the health benefits of smoking cessation in this high-risk group, and offered recommendations for incorporating evidence-based smoking-cessation treatment with lung cancer screening.

“Quitting smoking is the most important step patients can take to minimize risk for lung cancer and to also improve overall health,” Toll said. “Combining smoking cessation with lung cancer screening will maximize the benefits of screening.”

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