The purpose of this study is to see if we can find ways to improve the treatment of tobacco
dependence in patients who have cancer or may have cancer. We will compare two ways to help
people quit tobacco use before surgery and to stay quit after surgery. One way is a
scheduled reduced smoking program followed by use of the nicotine patch. In this program,
the tobacco user will gradually cut down on their tobacco use until they quit. Once they
quit, they will be offered the nicotine patch. We will compare this approach to our current
program of counseling and use of nicotine patch. What we learn from this study may help us
to develop new ways to help tobacco users and improve our current smoking cessation program.
Smoking cessation offers an important way for newly diagnosed cancer patients to take an
active role in their treatment and recovery. Quitting tobacco use decreases cancer patients'
risk of disease recurrence and development of second primary cancers. In addition,
preoperative tobacco cessation may reduce the likelihood of perioperative pulmonary,
cardiovascular, and wound healing complications. Due to increased awareness of the health
hazards of tobacco use, rates of cessation after cancer diagnosis are high. However, 35% to
69% of patients continue to use tobacco and this is largely due to strong barriers to
quitting (low-self efficacy, psychological distress) rather than lack of positive intentions
to quit. Previous attempts to increase smoking cessation among the medically ill have
provided intervention either during or after hospitalization.
We propose that the period immediately prior to hospitalization and surgery represents a
unique window of opportunity, or "teachable moment," for smoking cessation that could take
full advantage of patients' enhanced health awareness and quitting motivation, strong
physician quitting advice, and patients' heightened desire to take an active role in their
- Age 18 years or older
- Smokers who typically smoke > 8 cigarettes per day who have smoked within the last 7
days or other tobacco users with high frequency of use (> 8 per day) within the last
- Diagnosed with cancer or have a mass suspicious of cancer that is NOT distant
metastatic cancer at the time of enrollment;
- Likely candidate for surgical treatment no sooner than 7 days from study entry;
- Absence of gross psychopathology or cognitive impairment;
- Can be reached by telephone;
- Have manual dexterity and sensory (i.e., visual and auditory) acuity sufficient to
use a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA);
- Provide informed consent.