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Smoking May Be Linked to Prostate Cancer Return

Mar. 21, 2015 — Smoking doubles the risk that prostate cancer will return after surgery for the disease, a new study suggests.

“This is a new analysis, but it seems to confirm results we have seen in many other types of cancer: Basically, smoking increases the risk of cancer recurrence after initial treatment,” said lead author Dr. Malte Rieken, of University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland.

Researchers followed nearly 7,200 men after they had their prostate gland removed because of cancer. About one-third were current smokers, one-third were former smokers and one-third had never smoked.

During the roughly 28-month follow-up, current smokers and patients who had only quit smoking within the previous 10 years were about twice as likely to have their cancer return as those who never smoked, the international team of researchers found.

Former smokers had to have quit more than 10 years in order to have a significantly lower risk of cancer recurrence, according to the study, which is scheduled for presentation Saturday at the annual meeting of the European Association of Urology in Madrid, Spain.

“Prostate cancer mortality varies widely throughout Europe,” Rieken said in an association news release. “The fact that cancer recurrence can vary so dramatically due to smoking is probably one of the factors which may contribute to differences in prostate cancer mortality.

“It’s just another reason not to smoke at all, but the fact that the risk drops after 10 years means that anyone who has prostate cancer would be well advised to quit immediately,” Rieken added.

Dr. Per-Anders Abrahamsson, former secretary-general of the association, agreed, adding the study provides doctors with a reason “to advise our patients to stop smoking when diagnosed with prostate cancer.”

About one-third of all prostate cancer patients who have their prostate gland removed have a cancer recurrence within 10 years, the researchers noted.

Research presented at meetings is usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer.