Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Smoking during radiation therapy for head and neck cancers linked to poorer outcomes

Date:
April 30, 2010
Source:
University of California - Davis - Health System
Summary:
Smokers who don't quit before radiation therapy for throat, mouth and other head and neck cancers fair significantly worse than those who do, researchers have found.

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.

Related Articles


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 who had surgery prior to radiation therapy and patients who had radiation therapy alone.

Similarly, Chen and his colleagues found that 53 of the patients who still smoked experienced disease recurrence, compared to 40 patients in the control group. Active smokers also experienced more complications of radiation therapy, such as scar tissue development, hoarseness and difficulties with food intake, than their counterparts who had quit prior to starting therapy.

The incidence of secondary cancers following radiation therapy was not significantly different between the two study groups.

"A diagnosis of cancer is emotionally devastating, and a lot of patients are reluctant to entertain the idea of smoking cessation. Many patients can't or won't connect the dots, and, unfortunately, our data shows that by continuing to smoke, they are more likely to gamble away the possibility of cure."

Chen said additional research will be needed to explain these differences in outcomes for patients with head and neck cancers. One theory suggests that smoking deprives the body of much-needed oxygen. "Radiation therapy requires oxygenation for the production of free radicals, which attack cancer cells," he said.

Chen emphasized that his findings are based on an observational study, which does not establish a cause-effect relationship between smoking during radiation therapy and poorer outcomes. Researchers were unable to determine with certainty the actual cause of death of each patient, and active smokers may be at higher risk of death from other medical problems such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

"In addition, patients unable to quit may also have non-cancer-related medical and psychosocial problems that could possibly contribute to inferior survival," Chen said. "Those who continue to smoke even after a diagnosis of head and neck cancer are likely to be at higher risk for alcohol abuse, have less social support and have lifestyles associated with high-risk health behaviors."

Chen stressed that the findings still are instructive for clinicians.

"Regardless of the underlying reasons, our finding should provide both clinicians and patients alike with compelling evidence supporting the role of smoking cessation in this setting" he concluded. "Counseling these patients on its importance, both here at UC Davis and in the community, is a must."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis - Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Allen M. Chen, Leon M. Chen, Andrew Vaughan, Radhika Sreeraman, D. Gregory Farwell, Quang Luu, Derick H. Lau, Kerri Stuart, James A. Purdy, Srinivasan Vijayakumar. Tobacco Smoking During Radiation Therapy for Head-and-Neck Cancer Is Associated With Unfavorable Outcome. International Journal of Radiation OncologyBiologyPhysics, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2009.10.050

Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis - Health System. "Smoking during radiation therapy for head and neck cancers linked to poorer outcomes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100427171847.htm>.
University of California - Davis - Health System. (2010, April 30). Smoking during radiation therapy for head and neck cancers linked to poorer outcomes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100427171847.htm
University of California - Davis - Health System. "Smoking during radiation therapy for head and neck cancers linked to poorer outcomes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100427171847.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins