CARES Tobacco Treatment Program

The Markey CARES (Cancer-specific, Assessment, Referral, Engagement, and Support) Tobacco Treatment Program is a high-quality, evidence-based tobacco treatment program for individuals receiving cancer care at the UK Markey Cancer Center. The program is funded by the National Cancer Institute Cancer Moonshot Program.

As part of this initiative, Markey will ask every patient about their experiences with tobacco use. By asking all of our patients about tobacco use, we are ensuring that we do not miss any chances to help our patients. It is our program's goal to make sure that anyone who wants to quit gets the resources and support they need.

Benefits of quitting for cancer patients

It is never too late to quit. After a cancer diagnosis, quitting tobacco use can improve your health, make treatment easier and promote better quality of life. Although the process of quitting can be hard, there are many reasons for cancer patients to try and quit, and we want to help you be successful.

Quitting tobacco use after any cancer diagnosis can improve:

  • How your body responds to cancer treatment.
  • How effective some treatments are for your cancer.
  • Your chance of not getting cancer again.
  • Your chance of not getting a new cancer.
  • Your chance of surviving cancer.
  • Your quality of life.

For these reasons and more, quitting tobacco is one of the best things you can do for your health.

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NCI Minute: Smoking and Cancer Treatment

Our services

The Markey CARES Tobacco Treatment Program includes a wide range of approaches to help you quit. As someone receiving cancer care at Markey, you can expect:

  • A simple screening program. This program will help determine your specific treatment needs.
  • Personalized approaches to quitting. All current tobacco users will be asked if they want help to quit. If you are a tobacco user who says “yes,” then a tobacco treatment specialist will reach out to you to make a plan that matches your wishes and feels comfortable for you.
  • Individual counseling sessions. Sessions can be conducted in-person or over the phone, and in some cases, there will not be a copay or any other cost to you.
  • Medicine recommendations. Many clinicians at Markey – including oncologists, nurses and social workers – are knowledgeable about tobacco treatment medicines, and can give advice about which ones might be the best fit for you.
  • Access to clinical trials. The following research studies are available for Markey patients who use tobacco:
    • Consultation, Advice, and Tailored Support (CATS) for Cancer Survivors. This study is open to cervical and head/neck cancer patients who smoke. Free nicotine replacement therapy may be provided to participants. Contact Gaby Puleo at (859) 323-4834 for more information.
    • Multiphase Optimization Strategy Framework with Treatment (MOST) for Individuals with Tobacco Related Cancers. This study is open to a broad range of individuals, including those with lung and head/neck cancer. Contact Elizabeth Rush at 859-218-6147 for more information.
  • If you are a current or former smoker, lung cancer screening may be right for you. To learn more, contact Regina Prigge at 859-218-2881 or toll free at 844-SCN-LUNG, or visit our Lung Cancer Screening Program page.

Our team

The Markey CARES Tobacco Treatment Program team includes many researchers and clinicians at Markey:

To schedule an appointment with a tobacco treatment specialist in Oncology Social Work, please call 859-323-2798 or email

Cancer Center Cessation Initiative

Launched by NCI in 2017 as part of the Cancer MoonshotSM, the Cancer Center Cessation Initiative aims to advance tobacco cessation efforts in cancer centers across the country. The video interviews the initiative’s leaders and representatives from funded cancer centers, who talk about their mission and how they are implementing tobacco cessation treatment in practice.

For more information on the initiative, please visit

Contact us

Ask your oncologist or nurse at Markey for a referral to a tobacco treatment specialist or schedule an appointment with a tobacco treatment specialist in Oncology Social Work by calling 859-323-2798 or emailing

Additional resources

In addition to services provided by the Markey CARES Tobacco Treatment Program, the following resources are available to those hoping to learn more about tobacco cessation.

  • Quit Now Kentucky provides guidance and support throughout the quitting process. It offers free phone-based counselors and an online community. Enroll by visiting or calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-748-8669).
  • offers quitting advice and tools tailored to a variety of groups, including people 60 years or older, Spanish speakers, women, and veterans.
  • Become an EX provides a new way to think about quitting through a quit plan based on experiences from ex-smokers and the latest research from the Mayo Clinic.
  • The National Cancer Institute offers free, confidential information about quitting tobacco, which you can access online or by calling 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).
  • The National Cancer Institute also offers a free, online booklet called Clearing The Air: Quit Smoking Today that is designed to support at any stage of your journey to quit.  
  • Springboard Beyond Cancer is a website that provides health information and support to people whose lives are affected by cancer, and it touches on the topic of smoking.
  • Sign up for SmokefreeTXT to get trustworthy advice and support for quitting tobacco via text message. Text “MARKEY” to 47848 if you’re a Markey Cancer Center patient and are ready to quit tobacco now.
  • QuitSTART APP provides 24/7 help on your smartphone. Download on the App Store (Apple) or Google Play (Android).
  • KY Cancer Link provides free, in-person smoking cessation classes in the Lexington area. For more information, call 859-309-1700.
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has a free guide to quitting, and it can help you identify the reasons you may want to quit and how to do so safely and effectively.
  • The American Society of Clinical Oncology offers a free, online booklet of information to empower people to talk with their healthcare team about quitting tobacco after a cancer diagnosis.

Grant support

This information is supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Cessation Initiative

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.