Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for head and neck cancer, and individuals who continue to smoke past diagnosis and treatment are at elevated risk for further disease. In a randomized controlled trial, a state of the art provider-delivered smoking cessation intervention was compared to a usual care advice control condition. The intervention consisted of surgeon- or dentist-delivered advice to stop smoking, a contracted quit date, tailored written materials, and booster advice sessions. Subjects were 186 patients with newly diagnosed first primary squamous cell carcinomas of the upper aerodigestive tract who had smoked cigarettes within the past year. At randomization, 88.2% of subjects were current smokers. At 12-month follow-up, 70.2% of subjects completing the trial (n = 114) were continuous abstainers; among baseline smokers alone the continuous abstinence (CA) rate was 64.6%. The cotinine validation rate at 12 months was 89.6%. Modeling techniques were utilized in order to derive expected CA rates, which included noncompleter subjects (n = 72). The CA rate expected at 1 year for the entire patient population was 64.2%, and for smokers alone the expected CA rate was 59.4%. Logistic regression analysis carried out on baseline smokers identified predictors of 12-month CA status. These included medical treatment, stage of change, age, nicotine dependence, and race. The intervention effect was not significant, although the sign of the effect was positive. Based on these findings, we recommend systematic brief advice to stop smoking for head and neck cancer patients, with a stepped care approach for patients less able to quit.

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