We’re trying to take all these best practices and assemble it into a Frankenstein, if you will, of effective, low-cost practices. I look at this as an opportunity to create long-term relationships. Think of a wheel with its spokes. At the center of the wheel is the tobacco treatment specialist program in Ann Arbor, which is full of some very highly qualified, highly motivated individuals. The spokes are these various clinics distributed throughout Michigan. That simple relationship will pay dividends in the long run. The hard part is measuring success, and we have to believe we’re going to be successful, because we’re only measuring surrogates right now.
What would you like the community oncologist to ultimately take away from these findings?
Oncologists should know—and this is part of the mission of the IASLC Tobacco Control and Smoking Cessation Committee, to make this widely known—that it’s never too late to stop smoking. There isn’t a patient out there, either with or without cancer, who can’t benefit in some way from tobacco cessation. Even patients who are undergoing the palliative care phase of their cancer journey can benefit from tobacco cessation.
These are people who are on oxygen and they’re at danger if they’re smoking, but even quality of life can be improved in the short-term with tobacco cessation. However, it has to be done right; it has to be done with compassion, not judgment. Despite all of the wonderful things that my colleagues in oncology do, they lose sight of the fact that it’s never too late to stop smoking, and engaging their patients with tobacco cessation experts is in both theirs and their patients’ best interests.
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