Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Smoking in Cancer Care (PDQ®): Supportive care - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Pharmacological Treatment

The following information is based on the successful use of pharmacological agents in the cessation of smoking in the general population. None of the following agents have been studied in large placebo-controlled studies in cancer patients for aid in smoking cessation. Dosage adjustments or titrations may be required when administering these agents to oncology patients. (Refer to Tables 1 through 7 for more information.)

Nicotine Replacement Therapies

Nicotine replacement therapies are designed to aid in the treatment of withdrawal symptoms associated with nicotine. Several precautions must be considered before therapy is initiated, but these precautions do not constitute absolute contraindications.

Table 1. Nicotine Inhalers

BrandDoseSide EffectsComments
Rx = prescription.
RxNicotrol NS≤40 mg/dLocal irritationUse ≤3 months.
RxNicotrol InhalerIndividualizedLocal irritationUse ≤24 weeks.

Table 2. Nicotine Polacrilex Gums

BrandDoseSide EffectsComments
OTC = over the counter.
OTCNicorette18–24 mg/dSore throat, stomatitis≤30 pieces/d; decrease 1 piece every 4–7 days.
OTCNicorette DS36–48 mg/dJaw ache≤20 pieces/d; decrease 1 piece every 4–7 days.

Table 3. Nicotine Lozenges

BrandDoseSide EffectsComments
OTC = over the counter.
OTCCommit40–80 mg/dLocal irritation (warmth and tingling)Use for 12 weeks; ≤20 pieces/d. Weeks 1–6: 1–2 lozenges every 1–2 hours; weeks 7–9: 1 lozenge every 2–4 hours; weeks 10–12: 1 lozenge every 4–8 hours.

Table 4. Nicotine Patches

BrandDoseSide EffectsComments
OTC = over the counter; Rx = prescription.
RxHabitrol7–21 mg/dErythemaUse for 6–12 weeks.
OTCNicoDerm CQ7–21 mg/dPruritusUse for 6–12 weeks.
OTCNicotrol5–15 mg/dBurning at siteUse for 14–20 weeks.
RxProStep11–22 mg/dLocal irritationUse for 6–12 weeks.

Varenicline (Chantix)

Varenicline is a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor partial agonist and the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription pharmacologic agent targeted to these nicotinic receptors.[2][Level of evidence: I] Although specific mechanisms of action are unknown, it is thought that the agonist properties result in reduced craving and withdrawal by stimulating release of dopamine, and the antagonist properties prevent inhaled nicotine from binding at the nicotinic receptor sites.[3]

1|2|3|4|5

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Building a Support System
Blog
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
 
precancerous lesions slideshow
SLIDESHOW
quit smoking tips
SLIDESHOW
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article