Harm reduction and cessation efforts and interest in cessation resources among survivors of smoking-related cancers

J Cancer Surviv. 2013 Mar;7(1):44-54. doi: 10.1007/s11764-012-0243-9. Epub 2013 Jan 10.


Purpose: Despite the well-established risks associated with persistent smoking, many cancer survivors who were active smokers at the time of cancer diagnosis continue to smoke. In order to guide the development of tobacco cessation interventions for cancer survivors, a better understanding is needed regarding post-diagnosis quitting efforts. Thus, we examined quitting and reduction efforts and interest in cessation resources among cancer survivors who self-identified as current smokers at the time of diagnosis.

Methods: We conducted analyses of survey participants (n = 54) who were current smokers at the time of cancer diagnosis and were continued smokers at the time of assessment. We also conducted semi-structured interviews (n = 21) among a subset of those who either continued to smoke or quit smoking post-cancer diagnosis.

Results: Among our survey participants, 22.2 % had ever used behavioral cessation resources and 66.7 % had use pharmacotherapy, while 62.8 % had interest in future use of behavioral cessation resources and 75.0 % had interest in pharmacotherapy. The majority reported some quitting efforts including making quit attempts, using cessation medications, and reducing their daily cigarette consumption. Semi-structured interview data revealed various strategies used to aid in smoking reduction and cessation as well as variability in preferences for cessation resources.

Conclusions: Cancer patients who smoke following diagnosis often engage in smoking reduction and cessation-related behaviors, which may reflect their motivation to reduce their smoking-related risks. They also report high interest in cessation resources. Thus, it is important to explore the acceptability and effectiveness of different cessation intervention components among this group.

Implications for cancer survivors: Cancer survivors who smoke demonstrate actions toward harm reduction and cessation. They should inquire about potential resources that might facilitate their efforts among their healthcare providers and enlist support and advice from others around them to bolster their efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Harm Reduction*
  • Health Resources*
  • Health Services*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Survival Rate
  • Survivors / psychology*