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June 26, 2019

UPenn's double-edged smoking cessation treatment plan proves preliminarily successful

Penn’s Tobacco Use Treatment Service (TUTS) combines technology and support for cancer patients

Addiction Tobacco
Carroll - Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center. Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center.

Trying to quit smoking (or vaping) is a struggle, but for many, it’s a life or death situation.

A new study out of the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center discovered data suggesting that “a simple set of decision-support tools combined with institutional buy-in" can help increase the number of cancer patients who try to quit smoking.

According to the university, the data for the study — which was published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network — was based on Penn’s Tobacco Use Treatment Service (TUTS), which combines technology tied to electronic health records with known methods for supporting patients in their smoking cessation efforts.

RELATED READ: Smoking ban at New Jersey beaches and parks takes effect this month

TUTS is that “decision-support tools combined with institutional buy-in” Penn has created to help cancer patients quit tobacco use. The service provides a personalized approach to encourage patients to quit the habit, and even includes the use of FDA-approved medications for nicotine addiction.

The university reports that an estimated 50 percent, or more, of cancer patients who smoked prior to their diagnosis continue to do so even after their treatment, regardless of evidence that quitting smoking can improve their prognosis.

With TUTS, UPenn saw the rate of patients engaging in smoking cessation programs increase with 85 oncologists using the tool, the university reports.

“Seeing a high number of clinicians from two different specialities use this tool indicates a level of institutional support that has proven critical to the successful launch of our program,” said lead author Brian Jenssen, MD, an assistant professor of Pediatrics and a primary care pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

This research was funded by the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Center Cessation Initiative.

“That support has allowed us to establish a sustainable, low-cost program that expands our efforts to help cancer patients quit tobacco, and it can continue to have an impact for years to come,” said Robert A. Schnoll, PhD, the senior author of the study.

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