Smoking Cessation in Regional Cancer Programs
The proportion of new ambulatory cancer patients screened for tobacco use in Ontario’s regional cancer centres increased from 50% in January 2016 to 69% in December 2018. While this screening rate reached a high of 72% for several months in 2018, the increasing trend appears to have plateaued at about 70% in 2017 and 2018.
Why is this important to Ontarians?
- Smoking cessation has been shown to improve cancer prognosis. Patients respond better to treatment, have less toxicity from radiation therapy and experience better post-surgical wound healing. In addition, quitting smoking may decrease the possibility of the cancer returning following treatment, or of a second primary cancer developing.
- To ensure the delivery of quality cancer care, screening new ambulatory cancer patients for tobacco use helps cancer centres identify and support cancer patients to quit smoking tobacco. The tobacco screening measurement indicates smoking cessation activity across Ontario over time.
See Smoking Cessation Methodology for technical information.
- Between January 2016 and December 2018, the proportion of new ambulatory cancer patients screened for tobacco use increased from 50% to 69% (Figure 1). Over this period, there was an initial increase in the tobacco screening rate in 2016 from 50% to 70%. However, in 2017 and 2018, the screening rate plateaued at around 70% across Ontario’s 14 regional cancer centres.
- Cancer Care Ontario’s Prevention and Cancer Control program works with smoking cessation champions in the regional cancer centres to promote a community of practice and drive improvements at centres with lower screening rates. In 2019/20, the provincial target for tobacco use screening on Cancer Care Ontario’s Regional Scorecard will increase from 75% to 80%, in an effort to further drive performance.
- A goal of Cancer Care Ontario’s smoking cessation program is to expand to new program areas, including the diagnostic phase, hospitals hosting regional cancer centres, cancer centre satellite locations and community partners. Efforts are also under way to explore opportunities to measure outcomes among cancer patients who smoked tobacco when they registered at the cancer centre, but who have quit smoking.