Wilmot Cancer Center Launches Inpatient Smoking Cessation Initiative

December 10, 2013

The James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center is helping patients navigate the complexities of quitting smoking after a cancer diagnosis with the introduction of an inpatient smoking cessation program—the first in the region to offer this comprehensive service to cancer patients admitted to the hospital.

For cancer patients, even if the cancer is not caused by tobacco use, quitting can speed recovery from surgery, improve the response to chemotherapy and radiation, and lessen the chance of developing secondary cancers and other health risks including congestive heart failure, heart disease and pulmonary disease.

“Quitting smoking is one of the most important changes a patient can make after receiving a cancer diagnosis; even recent quitters are more likely to recover from cancer than patients that smoke,” said Chunkit Fung, M.D., director of the in-patient smoking cessation program, Wilmot Cancer Center. “While cancer patients may be the most motivated at quitting smoking, we recognize that it can still be a struggle while also managing the stress of a serious illness.”    

The program aims to give smokers the tools they need to help quit while in the hospital, and then provides additional support once they go home. The patient's care team, made up of doctors and nurses, plays a key role in helping that person to successfully quit.

Once enrolled in the program, smoking cessation treatment will be integrated into the patient’s cancer treatment, and will include counseling from nurse managers, the development of a quit plan, access to nicotine replacement and other tobacco cessation medications, and behavioral strategies for managing craving. At home, the patient will receive check-in phone calls from his or her care team and can schedule outpatient sessions with the Healthy Living Center.

“With tobacco cessation as a core health outcome in the Affordable Care Act, we are implementing programs and systems to incorporate the treatment of tobacco use into our daily patient services,” said Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., director, Wilmot Cancer Center. “A diagnosis of cancer is a ‘teachable moment’ for patients. This opens the door for our care team to help influence lifestyle changes that will impact the patient’s overall outcome.”

The program will be rolled out in the outpatient clinic in the Wilmot Cancer Center in 2014.   

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Jessica Sanderson
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