Smoking cessation in head and neck cancer patients: factors influencing successes and failures

Smith, Justin, Woolley, Torres, Brown, Amy, Vangaveti, Venkat, and Chilkuri, Madhavi (2021) Smoking cessation in head and neck cancer patients: factors influencing successes and failures. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology, 65 (2). pp. 233-241.

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This study investigated the smoking behaviours and cessation rates of head and neck cancer (HNC) patients, and their barriers and facilitators to cessation.


The study used a mixed methods, sequential explanatory design. The quantitative data were collected at baseline (around time of cancer diagnosis) via a survey prior to commencement of treatment. Participants identified as current smokers at baseline were then followed up to determine their smoking status after treatment and asked to participate in one‐on‐one, semi‐structured interviews.


Sixty‐four participants with HNC were recruited, with 29 classified as current smokers. The 7‐day point prevalence cessation rate for current smokers was 72% at 1‐month follow‐up, and 67% at 3 months, while continuous smoking cessation was 54% at 1 month, and 42% at 3 months. Participants who continued smoking were found to consume more alcohol (P = 0.032), be in a lower stage of change (pre‐contemplation or contemplation stages of the transtheoretical model) at baseline (P = 0.012) and be less confident in being able to cease smoking (P = 0.004). Qualitative analysis revealed 5 key themes associated with smoking cessation: the teachable moment of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, willpower and cessation aids, psychosocial environment, relationship with alcohol and marijuana, and health knowledge and beliefs surrounding smoking and cancer.


This study demonstrates that the majority of HNC patients achieve smoking cessation, but relapses are common. Cessation programmes should be developed that are comprehensive, sustained and address factors such as alcohol, marijuana and depression.

Item ID: 66270
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1754-9485
Keywords: Head and neck neoplasms; Mixed methods; Smoking; Smoking cessation
Copyright Information: © 2021 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists
Funders: Townsville Hospital Study, Education and Research Trust Award (SERTA)
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2021 23:12
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420399 Health services and systems not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2001 Clinical health > 200104 Prevention of human diseases and conditions @ 100%
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