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Nicotine Tob Res. 2010 Nov;12(11):1118-24. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntq158. Epub 2010 Sep 20.

Brief smoking cessation intervention in relation to breast cancer surgery: a randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Anaesthesiology, Herlev University Hospital, Herlev Ringvej 75, DK-2730 Herlev, Denmark.



Smokers are more prone to develop postoperative complications. Smoking cessation intervention beginning 4-8 weeks prior to surgery improves the postoperative outcome. Cancer patients, however, often undergo surgery less than 4 weeks after diagnosis. The primary objective of this study was therefore to examine if a brief smoking cessation intervention shortly before breast cancer surgery would influence postoperative complications and smoking cessation.


A randomized controlled multicentre trial with blinded outcome assessment conducted at 3 hospitals in Denmark. One hundred and thirty patients were randomly assigned to brief smoking intervention (n = 65) or standard care (n = 65). The intervention followed the principles of motivational interviewing and included personalized nicotine replacement therapy aimed at supporting smoking cessation from 2 days before to 10 days after surgery.


The overall postoperative complication rate (including seroma requiring aspiration) was 61% in both groups risk ratio (RR) 1.00 (95% CI 0.75-1.33). The wound complication rate was 44% versus 45%. The effect on perioperative smoking cessation was modest, 28% intervention versus 11% control group patients, RR 2.49 (95% CI 1.10-5.60). There was no effect on smoking cessation at 12 months, 13% versus 9%.


Brief smoking intervention administered shortly before breast cancer surgery modestly increased self-reported perioperative smoking cessation without having any clinical impact on postoperative complications. The study adds to the body of evidence indicating that brief intervention has no clinical importance for surgical patients in regard to postoperative morbidity. Future studies should be designed to determine the optimal time of smoking cessation before surgery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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