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HPRC Researcher Study Evaluates Tobacco Cessation During Head and Neck Cancer Treatment

HPRC Researcher Study Evaluates Tobacco Cessation During Head and Neck Cancer Treatment

Published: Thursday, September 1, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Dr. Lurdes Queimado, a researcher at the TSET Health Promotion Research Center and director of the Center’s Tobacco Regulatory Science Laboratory, recently published a breakthrough study on tobacco cessation in Oral Oncology. The study titled, “Tobacco cessation after head and neck cancer diagnosis is an independent predictor of treatment response and long-term survival,” can be read in its entirety here.

Queimado’s recently-published research indicated that for head and neck cancer patients who were smokers at the time of diagnosis, chemotherapy and radiotherapy were four times more effective at completely eliminating the cancer for those who quit smoking prior to treatment than for those who continued smoking during treatment. Study participants included only patients who were actively smoking at the time of diagnosis.

For those who quit smoking following cancer diagnosis but prior to undergoing therapy, a significant increase in therapy response and a decrease in cancer recurrence was observed compared to those who continued smoking during therapy. Furthermore, disease-free survival and long-term survival were significantly increased in those who quit smoking prior to undergoing therapy. These patients received follow up for up to 12 years.

Currently, studies show that more than 55% of cancer patients continue smoking after diagnosis. This study demonstrates that smoking cessation after head and neck cancer diagnosis is critical to increasing the likelihood of complete remission and long-term survival. Moreover, study findings provide healthcare providers with supporting data to encourage patients to quit smoking or at the very least to stop smoking during cancer therapy.

Study findings indicate that there is a need to further develop programs and policies that incorporate tobacco cessation programs into cancer treatment plans. Queimado and Dr. Darla Kendzor, researcher and HPRC co-director, plan to pursue additional funding from the National Cancer Institute in an effort to expand upon this very important research.

This research was primarily supported by NIH National Cancer Institute grants (R33CA202898 and R01CA242168). Additional support was provided by an Oklahoma Center for Advancement of Science and Technology award (HR16-007), an Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust contract (R23-02), and the OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center via an NCI Cancer Center Support Grant (P30CA225520). The University of Oklahoma is an Equal Opportunity Institution.