Smoking Increases Side Effect Risks for Prostate Cancer Patients

Smokers have greater risk for recurrence of cancer.

Smokers have greater risk for recurrence of cancer.

Prostate cancer patients who smoke have an increased risk of experiencing side effects and suffering from disease recurrence, the results of a recent study indicate.

The study, published recently in BJU International, found that smoking may have a negative impact on the health outcomes of prostate cancer patients, in addition to contributing to care-related complications.

In light of several prior studies having exhibited a link between cigarette smoking and prostate cancer, researchers sought to evaluate the impact of smoking on prostate cancer progression and treatment. For the current study, the researchers examined 2358 prostate cancer patients treated with external beam radiotherapy between 1988 and 2005.

Of these patients, 2156 had a history of smoking. Patients were divided into groups that never smoked, currently smoke, used to smoke, and unknown.

With a median follow-up of approximately 8 years, current smokers were found to have a 40% increased risk of cancer relapse, in addition to carrying an increased risk of cancer spread and cancer-related death more than 2-times greater than patients who never smoked. Additionally, current and former smokers had an increased risk of experiencing side effects related to radiotherapy, including urinary toxicity, which can lead to urinary retention, urinary incontinence, and bladder hemorrhage.

"Less optimal tumor control outcomes among smokers could possibly be explained by the influence of less oxygen concentration within the treated tumors among smokers, which is known to lead to less sensitivity of the cells being killed off by radiation treatments," co-study lead Michael Zelefsky, MD, said in a press release. "Our findings point to the importance of physicians counseling their patients regarding the potential harms of smoking interfering with the efficacy of therapies and for increased risks of side effects."