A new paper says smokers who go to a doctor to be screened for lung cancer should also be encouraged to quit smoking during their visit. The paper was written by a team of researchers including senior author of the position statement Benjamin A. Toll, PhD, associate professor of public health at the Medical University of South Carolina. According to a Science Daily news report, the article references a recent recommendation of the US Preventive Services Task Force that heavy smokers undergo an annual screening for lung cancer.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has also approved lung cancer screenings as a preventive service benefit. The screenings are an opportunity to encourage smokers to quit, but the Task Force does not provide specific details for how the smoking cessation treatment should be offered in conjunction with the lung cancer screening, the authors of the study write.
“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,” Toll says. “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.”
The Science Daily news report notes that the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) and the Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence (ATTUD) developed this guideline for addressing smoking among smokers who seek lung cancer screening.
“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 explains. “Quitting smoking is the most important step patients can take to minimize risk for lung cancer and to also improve overall health. Combining smoking cessation with lung cancer screening will maximize the benefits of screening.”