Cancer care: importance of discussing quitting smoking and referring to NSW Quitline

Cancer care: importance of discussing quitting smoking and referring to NSW Quitline


I think at the time of diagnosis of a
cancer it is a very difficult time. The
challenges that people face when they
have a cancer diagnosis and when they’re
smoking to quit is everything else
that’s going on in their life. I think
they worry about being judged and really
it’s a matter of being understanding and
then helping them to decide that they
need to stop smoking and providing them
with the resources to do it
one of the biggest problems is that we
know that smoking will influence on how
they get through treatment certainly for
me if patients are having operations and
they continue to smoke up to the day of
the operation we know that the
intraoperative problems often are worse
the healings often worse we know if they
continue then smoke during the
recuperation period that healing slowed
we know they’re going to have more
problems with their extra treatment
whether it be radiotherapy or some
chemotherapy treatment so there’s a lot
of problems there with ongoing smoking
and it’s really important that we
explain that to the patients because if
you do explain it to the patients they
get it they understand that it’s going
to be much harder to get through
everything if they continue to smoke. As
a group we’re busy often you know you’re
under a bit of pressure I mean all
doctors and people and
clinicians who work in the health system
are all under pressure in different ways.
A lot of the time they expect their
health professional to discuss their
smoking and I always like to talk to the
patient in a private and quiet space
when you can tell that they feel
comfortable to talk to you openly. Well I
would always start with the first
question you know do you smoke do you
continue to smoke when was your last
cigarette so they’d be the the three
ways that I would do that and then if
the answer is they are still smoking
they’ve had a cigarette that day then
this is the opportunity for initiating
the pathway of care. To start the
conversation about smoking cessation I
think it’s important to remember that
patients want to talk about their
smoking most of the time and to just
talk to them in a non-threatening and
non confrontational way just as a
curiosity measure to begin with so
I would say something like how do you
feel about your smoking right now I
would talk to them about Quitline it’s
in their best interest for their health.
Quitline is one part of a range of
referral services would be perfect for
the care of the patients and I think if
we could do that anymore a more reliable
and sort of sustainable way then I’m
sure that we would have better care for
those patients. So I think the most
important thing that surgeons can do to
help their patients is firstly ask them
if they’re a smoker don’t ignore it even
if you think that they couldn’t possibly
be a smoking you get a surprise second
thing is that to tell them that they
have to stop smoking or it’s in their
best interest to stop smoking
and that they’ve just got to try to do
it and the third thing is you’ve got to
provide them with some support or a
mechanism of how they can get some
support to stop smoking with that be via
using the Quitline whether that be
accessing hospital based smoking
cessation courses or individuals in the
hospital who will facilitate that. I
think it’s the responsibility of every
health professional working with
patients to talk about smoking cessation
and to try and help people quit smoking.
Patients do they do often hang on our
words of advice so I think that
relationship really means that they will
listen to what we say so I think that’s
a really important part

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