Half of Cancer Patients Keep Smoking, Study Finds
Up to half of cigarette smokers diagnosed with cancer continue to smoke, even though tobacco use substantially increases patients' risk of death, according to a study published on Monday in the journal Cancer, USA Today reports. Researchers at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center evaluated previous research on the issue and concluded that smoking can reduce the effectiveness of radiation therapy and chemotherapy and can prevent surgical wounds from healing and increase the risk of infection.
In addition, smoking can cause complications with tissue grafts, such as those used to reconstruct the breast. The researchers found that some cancer patients never quit smoking, while others relapsed after they completed therapy.
Cancer survivors who smoked had increased risk of heart problems, infections, lung trouble and new tumors.
Damon Vadrine, an author of the study, said patients who stop smoking at any point -- before, during or after cancer therapy -- have a better chance of survival than those who never stop smoking.
Glen Morgan, a psychologist for the National Cancer Institute, noted that stress resulting from a cancer diagnosis can make it more difficult to quit smoking, but a diagnosis also can motivate patients to quit.
David Johnson, deputy director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, said doctors should ask their patients about smoking on each visit (Szabo, USA Today, 11/28).