The importance of incorporating smoking cessation into lung cancer screening

Jennifer Anne Minnix, Maher Karam-Hage, Janice A. Blalock, Paul M. Cinciripini


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States (U.S.) and is the second most common non-skin cancer among men and women, accounting for about 30% of cancer-related deaths. There is clear and accumulating evidence that continued tobacco use has multiple adverse effects on cancer treatment outcomes, including greater probability of recurrence, second primary malignancies, reduced survival, greater symptom burden, and poorer quality of life (QOL). Recent findings suggest an avenue to significantly mitigate the impact of smoking on lung cancer mortality rates through the use of low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening. Based on the reviewed evidence (type B), the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines of 2015 recommend screening combined with smoking cessation interventions for high-risk heavy smokers and recent quitters. These practice changes offer opportunities to develop novel smoking cessation strategies tailored to highly specific settings that aim to amplify the survivorship gains expected from screening alone. However, there is a paucity of research and data that speaks to the feasibility and efficacy of providing smoking cessation treatment specifically within the context of the LDCT lung cancer screening environment. While some studies have attempted to characterize the parameters within which smoking cessation interventions should be implemented in this context, further research is needed to explore relevant factors such as the format, components, and timing of interventions, as well as the influence of risk perceptions and results of the screening itself on motivation and ability to quit smoking.