Cancer treatment is less effective if a patient is a smoker, and the chance of complications and death is higher. Yet, one in five cancer patients in Canada smokes.
In the past, few cancer patients were offered help to quit. But that is changing. With Partnership funding, seven provinces and two territories have introduced support for smoking cessation as part of cancer treatment. And that funding is now expanding to the remaining provinces and territory.
Early data from several provinces suggest the support for patients is making a difference. For cancer patients who accepted help, 56 per cent were smoke-free a month later. By six months, 24 per cent were still smoke-free.
Evidence shows that cessation aids like nicotine patches or medications are a key support to help people quit, but the cost is not fully covered in most provinces and territories. The Partnership has developed resources on the costs and impact of tobacco cessation to help cancer centres make the case for coverage. CancerCare Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador’s Eastern Health now cover these drugs for cancer patients, the latter used Partnership resources to support these changes.