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Nearly 10% of Cancer Survivors Still Smoke, Study Finds

Patients require long-term counseling

Nine years after diagnosis, 9.3% of U.S. cancer survivors were current smokers, and 83% of these individuals were daily smokers who averaged 14.7 cigarettes per day, according to a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

“We need to follow up with cancer survivors long after their diagnoses to see whether they are still smoking and offer appropriate counseling, interventions, and possible medications to help them quit,” said lead author Lee Westmaas, PhD.

Roy Herbst, MD, PhD, chief of medical oncology at Yale University, who was not involved in the study, said in an interview that the findings illustrate the scope of the problem.

“Smoking can cause new mutations among cancer survivors that can lead to secondary and additional primary cancers. It can also affect physical function and interfere with the efficacy of therapies,” Herbst said. “We need to take note of this and target this population for intervention.”

In the study, researchers at the American Cancer Society analyzed data from 2,938 patients 9 years after their cancer diagnosis. Smoking prevalence by cancer type was as follows:

  • Bladder cancer: 17.2%
  • Lung cancer: 14.9%
  • Ovarian cancer: 11.6%
  • Melanoma: 7.6%
  • Kidney cancer: 7.3%
  • Colorectal cancer: 6.8%

“Smoking is addictive, and having cancer does not guarantee that you will stop, even if that cancer was directly tied to your smoking,” said Westmaas. “We need to do more to intervene with these patients.”

Source: AACR; August 6, 2014.

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