Smoking rates are down nationally, but so are discussions among physicians and smokers about lung cancer screening, University of Florida researchers have found. However, the study also found these patient-physician conversations did not affect current smokers’ intent or attempts to quit.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. For active smokers, lung cancer screening can reduce cancer-related mortality by 20 percent. But the study found screening may have no benefits for individuals who do not smoke frequently or are younger than 55 years old, the recommended age to start yearly screenings.
The researchers expected to find that if patients who smoke engage in a discussion about lung cancer screening with their physicians, they will be more motivated to quit. However, the study showed physician-patient discussions were not associated with any changes in smokers’ behavior.
“These results are surprising because we actually want to see an increase in this discussion among smokers who have a high risk of lung cancer, and for this discussion to modify patients’ smoking behavior,” said Dr. Jinhai “Stephen” Huo, an assistant professor at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions’ Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy and the study’s principal investigator.
Patient-physician discussions are an opportunity to persuade current smokers to modify or abandon their smoking habits, said Dr. Huo. Study data, however, showed that receiving a lung cancer screening did not significantly impact the desire to quit smoking.Friday Letter Submission