One year after undergoing lung cancer screening, 14 percent of smokers in the study had stopped smoking. "That quit rate is double what we would expect to see in a community sample of smokers," says Matthew Clark, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic clinical psychologist and a lead investigator in the study.
Participants did not receive counseling or treatment to encourage smoking cessation.
"Our results indicate that people who participated in cancer screening were motivated to quit smoking. Cancer screening may present a 'teachable moment,'" says Dr. Clark. "If health-care providers did offer smoking cessation resources, perhaps even more smokers would have quit after undergoing cancer screening."
Researchers looked for evidence of lung cancer using a low-dose fast spiral computerized tomography (CT) scan, an X-ray technique that produces more detailed images than conventional X-ray studies. Participants also were evaluated for lung function and damage related to smoking. Participants included 901 smokers and 574 former smokers, all age 50 or older, and all considered at high risk for lung cancer.
Results also indicated that former smokers might benefit from cessation counseling at the time of lung cancer screening.
About 10 percent of the former smokers in the study had resumed smoking one year after CT screening. Those at highest risk for relapse were those who had quit most recently. "People in this group could perhaps avoid relapse if we provided support for their continued abstinence from smoking during cancer screening," says Dr. Clark.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. Yet lung cancer is among the most preventable cancers because smoking accounts for about 85 to 90 percent
Contact: Shelly Plutowski