During the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, patients with cancer are at high risk of severe respiratory illness from infection because cancer and its treatments weaken their immune systems. Patients who smoke may be even more immunocompromised and at greater risk of COVID-19. A research study by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group is evaluating the use of video counseling nationwide to help patients with cancer who smoke to quit and stay smoke-free. The National Cancer Institute is funding the study. Colleagues at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York collaborated to develop the program.
In this trial, called the Smoke-Free Support Study 2.0, about 308 current smokers with any type of cancer will be randomly assigned by a computer to one of two study groups. One group will receive 11 video counseling sessions with a tobacco treatment counselor from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Patients will have the option to receive up to 12 weeks of standard nicotine replacement therapy (patches and lozenges) at no cost. The other study group will receive smoking cessation advice and referral to the national smokers’ quitting resource (smokefree.gov). The primary endpoint of this trial is abstinence at 6 months.
“It can be challenging to stop smoking, but if patients continue to smoke through cancer treatment, they are at risk for having complications, which can affect their quality of life,” said Lead Investigator Elyse R. Park, PhD, MPH, a psychologist researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Elyse R. Park, PhD, MPH
Jamie S. Ostroff, PhD
“If the group that receives video counseling has a higher abstinence rate at 6 months than the usual-care group, this trial will meet its primary endpoint,” said Dr. Park. “If positive, this trial will help provide the evidence needed to make tobacco treatment a standard of high-quality care in community cancer centers.”
In addition, “this trial is collecting data from participating oncology care providers, which will help us identify barriers and facilitators of implementing tobacco treatment in community oncology settings,” said Jamie S. Ostroff, PhD, a behavioral scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering and a co-investigator of the trial.