A new study shows women who smoke while undergoing therapy for breast cancer are more than twice as likely to die than non-smokers or those who quit smoking.
Researchers studied more than 1,000 non-smokers and more than 850 smokers who underwent therapy for breast cancer between 1970 and 2002. The study was the first of its kind to examine the effect of long-term smoking on breast cancer patients. Researchers compared the survival and death rates of patients.
Results of the study show women who continue to smoke during therapy are 2.5-times more likely to die from breast cancer than those with no smoking history. However, women who stopped smoking prior to treatment had the same risk of death as women who never smoked.
Researchers, say stopping smoking may save a woman's life , their findings suggest that women undergoing breast cancer therapy should consider smoking cessation to improve their chance of survival. Physicians and support staff should encourage and assist patients in this challenging ordeal.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 211,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2003, and researchers estimate more than 39,000 women will die from the disease this year. However, breast cancer death rates are decreasing. Doctors say smoking is an important factor to consider when assessing death rates. Researchers say, "Their study suggests that smoking cessation remains an integral component in the comprehensive management of breast cancer."