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Smoking during radiation therapy for head and neck cancers linked to poorer outcomes
Date:4/27/2010

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) Smokers who don't quit before radiation therapy for throat, mouth and other head and neck cancers fair significantly worse than those who do, research from the UC Davis Cancer Center has found.

Allen Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the UC Davis Cancer Center, found that head- and neck-cancer patients who continue to smoke during radiation therapy have poorer 5-year overall survival and higher rates of disease recurrence than those who quit smoking prior to treatment.

The study, published online recently in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics, should help oncologists counsel patients about the benefits of quitting smoking after a diagnosis of head and neck cancer, said Chen, lead author of the study.

"I always tell patients, 'You should really stop smoking,' but I had no tangible evidence to use to convince them that they would be worse off if they continued to smoke," Chen said. "I wanted concrete data to see if smoking was detrimental in terms of curability, overall survival and tolerability of treatment. We showed continued tobacco smoking contributed to negative outcomes with regard to all of those."

Chen and colleagues reviewed medical records of 101 patients with newly diagnosed squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck who continued to smoke during radiation therapy, and matched those patients to others who had quit prior to starting radiation therapy for their head and neck cancers. Matching was based on primary disease site, gender, smoking history, stage of disease, other treatment (surgery and chemotherapy) and date of initiation of radiation therapy.

The researchers found that 55 percent of patients who had quit smoking prior to treatment were still alive five years later, compared with 23 percent of those who continued to smoke. The poorer outcomes for persistent smokers were reported for both patients
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Contact: Dorsey Griffith
dorsey.griffith@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9118
University of California - Davis - Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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