There are high rates of smoking among head and neck cancer patients, and successful smoking cessation may offer a treatment and survival benefit for these patients. This prospective study was designed to assess baseline smoking characteristics, and intention to quit in a cohort of patients with head and neck cancer. All patients attended the dental oncology clinic within the regional cancer centre for assessments before, during, and after primary treatment. Primary treatment included one or more of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery. Participation in this study was offered to ever smokers (defined as having smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime), and involved completing a questionnaire that assessed baseline smoking related behaviours, including nicotine dependence using the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND), and intention to quit smoking. Patients were asked for consent to provide a saliva sample for genetic analyses and for future contact to assess smoking cessation and other health-related outcomes. Personalised counselling about smoking cessation, by trained staff, was also offered. One hundred and eleven consecutive patients have agreed to participate. Most (77 %) are male, with a median age of 65 years (range 36-92 years). Participants reported a median of 37 pack-years of smoking, and 43% were nicotine dependent (FTND score indicating high or very highly dependent). Nicotine dependence level was significantly associated with smoking status at enrolment, with current smokers more likely to report significantly higher nicotine dependence levels than those who were not smoking (p=0.03). While 96% (n=104) of the participants had previously attempted smoking cessation, 35% (n=39) were current smokers at study enrolment. Most of the current smokers (80%) were interested in quitting smoking and in receiving personalized counselling for cessation. This study demonstrates the need to support cessation efforts in this population of cancer patients, and highlights the role of nicotine dependence and smoking behaviour. Future research into smoking cessation methods, including the role of genetic variants in nicotine dependence and cessation, may help us better address smoking behaviours in cancer patients.

Citation Format: {Authors}. {Abstract title} [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 103rd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2012 Mar 31-Apr 4; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2012;72(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 4453. doi:1538-7445.AM2012-4453