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10 Percent Of Patients With Cancer Still Smoke: Study

Update Date: Aug 06, 2014 11:28 AM EDT

Nine years after the diagnosis, 9.3 percent of U.S. cancer survivors were current smokers, according to a new report. 83 percent of these individuals were daily smokers who averaged 14.7 cigarettes per day. 

"We need to follow up with cancer survivors long after their diagnoses to see whether they are still smoking and offer appropriate counseling, interventions, and possible medications to help them quit," said Lee Westmaas, PhD, director of tobacco research at the American Cancer Society (ACS) and lead author of the study, in the press release. 

According to experts, findings illustrate the scope of the problem. 

"Smoking can cause new mutations among cancer survivors that can lead to secondary and additional primary cancers. It can also affect physical function and interfere with the efficacy of therapies," Roy Herbst, MD, PhD, chief of medical oncology at Yale University and chair of the AACR Tobacco and Cancer Subcommittee, who was not involved with the study, added in the press release. "We need to take note of this and target this population for intervention."

Researchers analyzed data on around 3,000 patients nine years after their diagnoses. 

The study further added that survivors were more likely to smoke if they were younger, had less education and income or drank more alcohol. 

About 40 percent of smokers said they planned to quit within the next month, but this intention was lower among survivors who were married, older, or smoked more, the press release added. 

"Smoking is addictive and having cancer does not guarantee that you will stop, even if that cancer was directly tied to your smoking," said Westmaas. "We need to do more to intervene with these patients."

The report has been published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention [PDF], a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

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