Introduction: Although most smokers diagnosed with lung cancer report that they want to quit smoking, many do not succeed. Smokers who quit when lung cancer is diagnosed have improved treatment efficacy, quality of life, and survival. Effective smoking cessation interventions targeted to thoracic oncology patients are needed.
Methods: This pilot study examined the feasibility and potential efficacy of a 12-week program that combined smoking cessation counseling with varenicline. Seven-day point prevalence tobacco abstinence rates at the end of treatment were compared with a usual care control group. From January 2008 to August 2009, patients with a diagnosed or suspected thoracic malignancy were recruited at their initial visit to a thoracic surgeon or thoracic oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Results: Of 1130 patients screened, 187 (17%) were current smokers, and an additional 66 (6%) reported quitting within the past 6 months. One hundred sixteen (67%) of smokers were eligible, and 49 (42%) of eligible smokers enrolled (control group n = 17, intervention group n = 32). Intervention participants completed a median of nine counseling sessions; 50% of intervention participants completed the full varenicline course. At 12-week follow-up, biochemically validated 7-day point prevalence tobacco abstinence rates were 34.4% in the intervention group versus 14.3% in the control group (odds ratio = 3.14, 95% confidence interval = 0.59-16.62, p = 0.18).
Conclusion: Our findings support the feasibility and acceptability of this program. At the end of treatment, quit rates were higher in the intervention [corrected] group. Further testing is indicated to establish the efficacy of this treatment package in a randomized clinical trial.