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Smoking during radiation treatments reduces chance of overall survival
Date:2/16/2011

Smokers who continue to smoke while undergoing radiation treatments for head and neck cancer fare significantly worse than those who quit smoking before therapy, according to a study in the February issue of the International Journal of Radiation OncologyBiologyPhysics, an official journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

Although the association between tobacco smoking and head and neck cancers has long been established, there had been little data until now showing whether continued smoking during treatment affects prognosis.

"I've always told 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," Allen Chen, M.D., lead author of the study and residency training program director at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine in Sacramento, Calif., said. "I wanted concrete data to see if smoking was detrimental in terms of curability, overall survival and tolerability of treatment. We showed continued 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 duration, stage of disease, radiation dose, 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 who had surgery prior to radiation therapy and patients who had radiation alone. Si
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Contact: Beth Bukata
bethb@astro.org
703-839-7332
American Society for Radiation Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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