Cancer Patients Who Smoke Report More Severe Pain

Those who quit experienced less discomfort as time went on, study finds

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TUESDAY, Dec. 28, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients who smoke suffer worse pain than nonsmokers, researchers have found.

The new study included 224 patients with a range of cancer diagnoses who were asked to provide information about pain severity, pain-related distress and pain-related interference.

Patients who were current smokers reported more severe pain than those who never smoked and also reported more interference from pain than never smokers or former smokers. Among former smokers, the longer it had been since they quit, the less pain they had, according to lead investigator Joseph W. Ditre, of the psychology department at Texas A&M University, and colleagues.

The results of the study are published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Pain.

"Clinicians must do more to assist cancer patients to quit smoking after their diagnosis," Dr. Lori Bastian, of the department of internal medicine at Duke University, Durham, N.C., and the Durham VA Medical Center, wrote in a commentary accompanying the report.

"Although more research is needed to understand the mechanisms that relate nicotine to pain, physicians should aggressively promote smoking cessation among cancer patients," she noted in a journal news release. "Preliminary findings suggest that smoking cessation will improve the overall treatment response and quality of life."

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about pain.

SOURCE: Pain, news release, Dec. 21, 2010

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