Heart Health Articles

Smoking Cessation Program Open To Cancer Survivors Who Need Help Quitting The Habit

July 14, 2017

Cancer survivors who smoke and need help quitting can receive help through a tobacco cessation program organized by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Despite the known risk of tobacco use, many cancer survivors still smoke. Cancer and its treatments put some survivors at increased risk for second cancers and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Smoking adds to health risks.

The Cancer Survivor Tobacco Quit Line is open to survivors of childhood or adult-onset cancer, regardless of where they received treatment. Participation in the program is free.

"St. Jude has several efforts in place to help with the transition from patient to survivor," said Robert Klesges, Ph.D., of the St. Jude Epidemiology and Cancer Control department. "The quit line is another way for us to help survivors be conscious about their health, understand the health risks associated with their treatment and help improve their quality of life."

In recent years, smoking prevention and cessation efforts in the United States have included public smoking bans, the establishment of toll-free quit lines and the Great American Smokeout event nationwide, which is organized annually to encourage smokers to quit. This year's event is November 18.

To address the unique needs of cancer survivors who smoke, St. Jude created the Cancer Survivor Tobacco Quit Line through a grant from the National Cancer Institute. The quit line first started as a smoking cessation program aimed at childhood cancer survivors, but this year the program expanded to include survivors of adult-onset cancer as well.

Through the quit line, participants are assigned to one of two interventions: a counselor-initiated group or a self-paced group. All of the St. Jude counselors hold advanced degrees and have professional experience in public health to assist participants in preparing to quit, setting quit dates and avoiding relapses.

In the counselor-initiated group, St. Jude counselors call participants six times during an eight-week period. Smokers in the self-paced group receive the same intervention but are responsible for phoning the counselors. All participants receive nicotine-replacement therapy in the form of patches or gum.

Participation in the quit line study is confidential, and survivors may end participation at any time. To qualify, survivors must be 18 years or older; speak English; have telephone access and live in the U.S.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital