MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

Hollings in the Headlines

Researchers from Hollings Cancer Center Participate in New Advice for E-cigarette Use by Cancer Patients

The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), the largest international organization associated with lung cancer diagnosis and management, recently issued recommendations that clinicians can use to help discuss e-cigarette use with cancer patients. 

“This is the first discussion of e-cigarette use from any large cancer organization,” said Dr. Michael Cummings, Chair of the Tobacco Control Committee for IASLC and leading author for the report.  “These consensus guidelines represent a summary of the best current evidence that clinicians can use in practice.  However, there is currently very little evidence supporting or refuting the use of e-cigarettes by cancer patients.  There are no clear data that e-cigarettes are better than proven smoking cessation strategies and health effects of e-cigarettes are currently unknown.” 

“These guidelines are desperately needed,” said Dr. Graham Warren, Vice Chairman for Research in Radiation Oncology, Director of the Hollings Cancer Center Tobacco Cessation Program, and co-author on the report.  “Though we do not have strong evidence either way for e-cigarettes, we are faced with a high percentage of cancer patients who either use or are requesting to use e-cigarettes instead of smoking.  It may be years before we have sufficient evidence about the effects of e-cigarettes, but clinicians need some form of guidance now.”  According to the report, clinicians should advise patients who smoke to use evidence-based tobacco cessation methods such as behavioral counseling and medications.  Regarding the use of e-cigarettes in cancer patients, “… the IASLC advises against recommending their use at this time.” 

“The harmful effects of smoking by cancer patients were confirmed in the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, and are not in question,” added Dr. Cummings.  “Additional work is needed to understand the effects of e-cigarettes, but cancer patients should absolutely avoid smoking.”  The report titled “E-Cigarettes and Cancer Patients” is published in the April edition of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.  Additional information on the harmful effects of smoking by cancer patients can be found in the publicly available 2014 Surgeon General’s Report “The health consequences of smoking – 50 years of progress.”

1. Cummings KM, Dresler CM, Field JK, Fox J, Gritz ER, Hanna N, Ikeda N, Jassem J, Mulshine J, Peters M, Yamaguchi N, Warren G, Zho C.  E-cigarettes and Cancer Patients.  J Thorac Oncol 9:438-441, 2014.
2. The health consequences of smoking – 50 years of progress: a report of the Surgeon General. – Atlanta, GA. : U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.


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