Smoking History Hinders Lung Cancer Treatment

Patients who have never smoked fare best, study finds

TUESDAY, April 25, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- While quitting smoking is always the right thing to do, not taking it up in the first place is even better.

That's according to a new U.S. study that finds that lung cancer patients who have never smoked respond best to chemotherapy and have a better chance of survival compared to current smokers, or patients who smoked in the past.

The study, by researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, also found that smoking status during treatment had no effect on treatment outcome.

Reporting in the June 1 issue of the journal Cancer, they reviewed the medical records of 1,370 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who were treated with chemotherapy or chemo-radiation.

Patients who'd never smoked had a better response to chemotherapy, developed less disease progression during therapy, and showed improved survival over current and former smokers, the researchers said. This may be because people who've never smoked have less genetic damage, are less likely to have other ailments that affect survival, and have better-preserved lung function, the researchers said.

"Continued efforts at preventing smoking initiation are a critical public health issue and emphasize the need for chemoprevention for smokers and primary-prevention protocols to prevent smoking," the study authors wrote.

More than 170,000 Americans were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005 and more than 160,000 lung cancer patients died. NSCLC cases comprise the majority of lung cancers. If cured, NSCLC survivors have up to a 4 percent annual risk of developing another tumor.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about non-small cell lung cancer.

Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Updated on April 26, 2006

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