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Continuing to Smoke Worsens Pain in Lung Cancer

Persistent smokers more likely to report moderate to severe pain

MONDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Lung cancer patients who continue to smoke even after their diagnosis are more likely to experience moderate to severe pain, researchers report in the March issue of the Journal of Pain.

Marcella Daniel, from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues surveyed 893 lung cancer patients (mean age 63 years) via telephone about factors including their pain level in the past week and smoking history.

The investigators found that 76 percent of patients had advanced cancer (stages IIIb and IV) and 17 percent were persistent smokers who continued to smoke even after being diagnosed with lung cancer. On a scale of 0 to 10, 41 percent of patients reported moderate pain (4 to 6) or severe pain (7 to 10). More persistent smokers reported moderate to severe pain than non-smokers or former smokers (60 versus 37 percent), even after adjusting for possible confounding factors, the researchers report.

"In conclusion, patients who continue to smoke after a diagnosis of lung cancer report higher levels of usual pain than non-smokers or former smokers," Daniel and colleagues write. "Although more research is needed to understand the mechanisms that relate nicotine intake to pain and disease progression, physicians can promote smoking cessation in patients with lung cancer to improve health and quality of life."

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