Lung Cancer: Quit Smoking


For smokers aiming to kick the habit, UT Southwestern’s Simmons Cancer Center won’t quit until they do.

Yet some patients referred to the center’s nicotine cessation resource just aren’t ready. In that case, program educators – all American Lung Association-certified in nicotine cessation – can act as a telephone resource to help patients prepare.

This resource also helps lung cancer patients get smoke-free before surgery. “When we get that referral, we stay close,” says oncology certified nurse Maria Grabowski, program manager for patient education and community outreach. At no cost, educators will help the patient set a quit date, and offer telephone or in-person motivational and educational sessions as well as regular check-ins.

The cessation resource has a medical director, Dr. David Balis, and an advanced practice nurse from the lung cancer team, Sharon Hoskin, who are highly experienced in pharmaceutical support for smokers trying to quit. That team makes varenicline or bupropion available and provides the close management advised for patients using varenicline.

Also available to the public is a weekly class, the Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking course, whose only cost is $35 for the companion book. Classes meet at noon on Tuesdays on campus. Participants can range from people struggling with quitting to those who are smoke-free but tempted to resume. Patients ready to quit but who miss the course’s start receive catch-up tutoring. Class participants also have access to the rest of the resource’s services, and may return to classes anytime in the future.

Referrals come from within UT Southwestern and the community. Smokers are also encouraged to explore other resources aimed at screening and early detection of lung problems, including UT Southwestern's low-dose CT lung cancer screening program.

Some smokers are so relieved after screening that no lung tumors were found that they are then raring to quit, Ms. Grabowski says. “They are grateful. They feel as if they can get out alive.”