Approximately one in 10 cancer survivors will continue smoking after their diagnosis, according to new research by the American Cancer Society.
The findings reveal that cigarette smoking can thwart cancer treatments, lower patient survival rates, and increase the risk of having a relapse. In spite of this, the researchers found that a significant number of cancer survivors continued to smoke even after their diagnosis.
For the research — the American Cancer Society’s Study of Cancer Survivors — investigators looked at patients who had been diagnosed with one of the top ten most common cancers: breast, bladder, colorectal, kidney, lung, melanoma, ovarian, prostate, and uterine cancers, as well as Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
As part of study, researcher Lee Westmaas and team interviewed about three thousand cancer survivors on their smoking habits.
The patients were interviewed nine years after their first cancer diagnosis. Slightly more than nine percent of all survivors said they were current smokers, while 41.2 percent of all participants said they were former smokers. Half of all study subjects said they had never smoked.
Bladder (17.2 percent) and lung (14.9 percent) cancer survivors had the highest smoking rates. Significantly lower rates were found in patients with melanoma (7.6 percent) and colorectal (6.8 percent) cancer.
In current smokers only, over 83 percent reported that they smoked every single day, with an average of 15 cigarettes per day. Nearly half of all smokers said they were planning to quit smoking; 43.3 percent of smokers said they were not sure whether they would stop smoking, while 10 percent said they did not plan on quitting.
The findings also revealed several common sociodemographic factors among those who continued smoking; most of the smokers were younger women with poor education and lower incomes. Married smokers were also less likely to quit smoking, according to the researchers.
The research team notes that most major hospitals offer smoking cessation programs which can be tailored to the individual patient. Counseling and medications are available to patients that want to quit, and there are several websites that offer advice and help as well.
The study is published in the online journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
Source: American Cancer Society