Study suggests cigarette smoking increases likelihood of death by prostate cancer

Although cure rates for prostate cancer patients who smoke cigarettes are about the same as patients who do not smoke, researchers have found that smokers were more likely to die of other causes than non-smokers, according to a new study in the March 15, 2004, issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology•Biology•Physics, the official journal of ASTRO, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

Recent studies have suggested that cigarette smoking may be associated with an increased risk of death from prostate cancer. This study, which followed 582 patients who had received brachytherapy either with or without supplemental external beam radiotherapy between 1995 and 2000 at Schiffler Cancer Center at Wheeling Hospital in Wheeling, W.V., evaluated the effect of cigarette smoking on the presentation and biochemical outcomes after permanent prostate brachytherapy for prostate cancer. Of the 582 patients, 178 had never smoked, 306 were former smokers and 98 were current smokers. The median patient age was 67 years and the median follow up was 54 months.

During this study, 322 patients received supplemental external beam radiation therapy before brachytherapy and 234 received hormonal manipulation. The end point of the analysis was biochemical progression-free survival as defined by the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology consensus definition.

The results of the study showed that while the three groups studied had about the same cure rates, current smokers were statistically younger. And while tobacco did not influence the overall prostate cancer death rate, current and former smokers were more likely to die of other causes then those who had never smoked.

“A trend was noted for poorer outcomes in current smokers versus those who had never smoked or former smokers,” said Gregory S. Merrick, M.D., the lead author of the study and Medical Director of the Schiffler Cancer Center at Wheeling Hospital in Wheeling, W.V. “Because this trend for increased biochemical failure was related to tobacco consumption, it is possible that with longer follow-up of more patients, tobacco consumption would result in an increased incidence of prostate cancer related deaths.”

The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 7,500 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As a leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society’s mission is to advance the practice of radiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research and disseminating research results and representing radiation oncology in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic healthcare environment.

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