The Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine is the only site in the state of Texas that will implement a National Cancer Institute-funded tobacco cessation program for cancer patients.

In 2017, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched the Cancer Center Cessation Initiative, or C3I, as part of the NCI Cancer Moonshot℠ program. The long-term goal of this initiative is to help the nation’s NCI-designated cancer centers build and implement sustainable, evidence-based tobacco cessation treatment programs to routinely address tobacco cessation with cancer patients. The Dan L Duncan Cancer Center was one of 22 sites selected by the NCI, and the only site in Texas.

At Baylor and the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, this effort will be led by Dr. Richard De La Garza, professor of psychiatry research and member of the Cancer Center, and Dr. Maria Mejia de Grubb, assistant professor of family and community medicine research programs.

“A key goal of the initiative is to ensure that science-based smoking cessation treatment services are integrated into the clinical care of funded cancer centers. A long-term goal will be achieving institutional buy-in that treating tobacco use is a component of organizational ‘Standard of Care,’” said De La Garza.

De La Garza and Mejia de Grubb also are working closely with Dr. Aaron Thrift, assistant professor in the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center and Department of Medicine – Gastroenterology, to launch this initiative for the cancer center and hope to expand it through its affiliate hospitals and cancer clinics across Houston, with a particular focus on the underserved population.

“After patients leave their doctor’s office, are they equipped with the tools and steps they need to stop their smoking habits? The establishment of a smoking cessation program will fill an immediate need in patient care,” said De La Garza.

The NCI C3I grant provides $250,000 for program development every year for two years, and De La Garza and colleagues hope it will extend beyond that time frame to continue to make an impact in smoking cessation in the future, especially among cancer patients.

“Supported by the guidance of the NCI, this project is very far-reaching and has the potential to succeed exponentially,” said Dr. Kent Osborne, director and professor of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor. “I’m pleased to announce the Cancer Center’s involvement in this project and look forward to seeing the direct impact it has on our patient base.”