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World No Tobacco Day 2021

District supports cancer patients to quit smoking.

Headshot of man outdoors
SydneyConnect Image: Kevin Ancog

Sydney Local Health District is stepping up its support for cancer patients to quit smoking - with evidence showing there's a significant boost to treatment outcomes and survival rates when patients stop using tobacco.

It comes as the District marks World No Tobacco Day - a global campaign led by the World Health Organisation which focuses on the need to reduce smoking. This year the theme is Commit to Quit.

Research shared by The Cancer Institute NSW suggests the risk of dying from cancer could be lowered by 30 to 40 per-cent, if a patient diagnosed with any form of cancer quits smoking at the time of diagnosis.

"Cancer patients may not know about the benefits of quitting smoking. It gives them a greater chance of defeating the disease," Kevin Ancog, a Clinical Nurse Consultant at the District's new Prostate Cancer Specialist Nursing Clinic, said.

The RPA-based Clinic has been set-up to educate men with prostate cancer about their treatment options and to support them throughout treatment, recovery and remission.

The Institute states evidence indicates continuing to smoke after a cancer diagnosis is likely to increase resistance to treatment, increase the risk of cancer recurrence, increase the risk of second primary cancer and increase cancer aggression and metastasis.

Earlier this year, Kevin participated in a special training session run by the Institute designed to better equip the District's cancer services staff to talk with patients about quitting smoking - and he's now championing the cause.

"It's important for all of us to support patients to quit using tobacco. It can change the trajectory of the disease and the patient's prognosis," he said.

During his consultations with patients, he routinely follows a quick, simple three-step process "Ask, Advise and Act" - called the 3As Intervention Model - which has been devised to support patients of cancer services to quit smoking.

Under the model, the first step is to ask a patient if they have used tobacco in the past 30 days. The second step is to advise patients about the treatment benefits of quitting tobacco and the negative impacts of tobacco use on cancer treatments.

The third step is to act by making a routine referral to the NSW Quitline which is a free and confidential phone service which offers information and advice to help patients quit smoking.

The Institute suggests holding a conversation about the 3As with all patients including those who've refused help to quit smoking in the past, patients with a terminal diagnosis and patients receiving palliative care.

"It can be a hard conversation to have with a patient after a cancer diagnosis, but I always aim to approach it in a sensitive and non-judgemental way. All of my patients have been grateful that we've had a discussion," Kevin said.