Survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers are more likely to smoke than people without a cancer history. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Graduate Program in Public Health have found that cancer survivors who were diagnosed at adolescent and young adult ages are more likely to be current cigarette smokers than people who have not had cancer. The findings of this study are currently available in Cancer.
Smoking is the leading cause of cancer but the study found that cancer survivors were not staunch non-smokers. The researchers identified 1,019 survivors of cancer from the 2012-2014 National Health Interview Surveys who were diagnosed when they were between 15 and 39 years old and were at least 5 years after diagnosis. A comparison group of people without a history of cancer was matched. The people in the study self-reported their smoking status, whether they were diagnosed with cancer and chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes, and their general health status.
The study found that 33 percent of survivors were current smokers compared with 22 percent of the people without a history of cancer. The current smokers among survivors were significantly more likely to report chronic illness, such as having asthma, heart diseases, lung diseases, diabetes and poorer general health.
Kaul said that in their study close to 40 percent of the currently smoking survivors reported not having any smoking-related discussion with health professionals in the previous year. She stated that addressing smoking during medical visits may be the first step in encouraging survivors to quit smoking. Survivors diagnosed with cancer at young ages need to be targeted for smoking-cessation to help them improve their quality of life.
Other authors include Drs. S. Phani Veeranki, Ana Rodriguez and Yong-fang Kuo. The study was supported by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.