It’s well documented that smoking can lead to cancer. But in recent years, evidence has been mounting that continuing to smoke during cancer treatment can be just as harmful, or even worse.

Not only does cancer treatment become less effective, but patients who continue smoking after a diagnosis increase their chances of developing a second primary cancer and generally have worse mortality outcomes.

In 2017, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched the Cancer Center Cessation Initiative (C3I) as part of the NCI Cancer Moonshot program in response to the lack of tobacco cessation services at NCI-designated cancer centers. Funded by the Cancer Moonshot program, C3I now works with more than 50 cancer centers across the United States to help build tobacco cessation treatment programs and streamline the process of getting cancer patients connected to them.

The C3I Coordinating Center, which facilitates these efforts, is housed at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, part of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

To further this work, C3I recently launched five new working groups provide opportunities to collaborate on cross-site projects in areas of common interest among C3I investigators. Each group has written a position paper, all of which are featured in a special supplement of Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Betsy Rolland
Betsy Rolland

“The goal of the C3I working groups is to leverage the investment NCI has made in the implementation of tobacco cessation for cancer patients at 52 NCI-designated cancer centers across the United States,” said Betsy Rolland, PhD, principal investigator for the C3I Coordinating Center. “The position papers are an opportunity to share what we have learned in a way that is accessible and actionable. By doing so, we hope to launch a national conversation about smoking cessation among cancer patients.”

The five working groups are:

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Family and Support Social Systems
  • Implementation Science
  • Sustainability
  • Telehealth

Each position paper explains why the topic is relevant to the area of tobacco cessation for cancer patients, specific examples of current successes across C3I, and a research and policy agenda moving forward. The JNCCN supplement also includes an introduction written by authors from the C3I Coordinating Center and the C3I Expert Panel.

The bigger, longer-term goal is for the lessons learned from C3I’s working groups to be disseminated and taken up by oncology practices outside of the academic medical centers and NCI-designated cancer centers.

Rolland adds, “We’re excited to showcase program implementation strategies from across the country that can help non-C3I cancer centers and community oncology practices develop their own tobacco cessation programs.”