The Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center is one of 22 centers nationwide chosen for a federally funded initiative to reduce tobacco use by cancer patients.
The two-year, $500,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute is for the Cancer Center Cessation Initiative, a program created to expand existing efforts at NCI-designated cancer centers to assist patients who are smokers to quit using tobacco.
Indiana ranks high nationally for its rate of tobacco use and elevated incidence of tobacco-related cancers. To reduce the incidence and morbidity of tobacco-related cancers, the IU Simon Cancer Center is partnering with the Purdue University College of Pharmacy, the IU School of Nursing and Indiana University Health, as well as community pharmacies throughout the state.
Co-leaders of the Cancer Center Cessation Initiative are Karen Hudmon, professor of pharmacy practice at Purdue University and adjunct assistant professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine, and Lisa Carter-Harris, assistant professor of nursing at the IU School of Nursing. Additional core team members include co-investigator Dr. DuyKhanh Ceppa, assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the IU School of Medicine and a thoracic surgeon at IU Health, and program director Deborah Hudson, tobacco cessation specialist at the IU Simon Cancer Center.
Ultimately, the goal is to reach patients statewide through IU Health clinics and community pharmacists, who in 2017 received legislative authority expanding their ability to provide FDA-approved medications for smoking cessation with assistance and follow-up care.
First steps in developing the new, comprehensive cessation program include modifying the electronic medical record system to reflect patients' tobacco use and capture interventions attempted by the patient, staff and clinicians when offering options for smoking cessation assistance. Each of the 22 centers will share best practices through the NCI coordinating center for the Cancer Center Cessation Initiative.
When implemented, each patient at IU Health will be asked about tobacco use. Patients who use tobacco will meet with a tobacco treatment counselor, be referred to a pharmacist in their community or be directed to the Indiana Tobacco Quit Line (800-QUIT-NOW), a phone-based counseling service. Cancer center staff will also follow up with patients during their appointments.
"By using cessation medications and receiving professional assistance, patients are more successful when quitting," Hudmon said. "Because the outcomes of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are negatively impacted by smoking, it's essential that the cancer center encourage and support our patients' efforts to quit."
Ideally, the team would like to see cessation interventions become a routine part of patient care so that helping cancer patients quit smoking becomes the standard of care in cancer treatment.
The initiative is a program led by the NCI as part of the Cancer Moonshot.
Michael Schug is the communications manager for the IU Simon Cancer Center.