It’s common knowledge that smoking is absolutely disastrous for your health. It kills more Americans than HIV, guns, illicit drugs, alcohol, and car accidents put together; men who smoke typically die 12 years earlier than those who don’t. But what about if you’re in treatment for prostate cancer?
In July 2018, a team of researchers at the Medical University of Vienna published a systematic review of articles published in various medical databases concerning the relationship between smoking status and the prognosis of patients undergoing treatment for localized prostate cancer. What they found was grim: individuals who continued to smoke while receiving treatment for prostate cancer had a higher chance of their cancer metastasizing–or spreading–as well as dying from the disease.
“…The effect of tobacco consumption on the incidence of prostate cancer is still a matter of debate,” wrote Sharokh F. Shariat, a co-author of the study. “Nevertheless, the association between cigarette smoking and prostate cancer mortality seems to be robust.” And the association was strong indeed: the research team analyzed 27 reports in total which covered 22,549 patients in all. Of that group, 4,202 individuals were smokers. Both current and former smokers were at statistically significantly higher risks of biochemical recurrence of the disease, or the phenomenon in which an individual’s PSA level rises even after receiving treatment. And current smokers had a higher risk of metastasis as well as dying from the disease. On the other hand, the review did not find former smokers to be at a higher risk of metastasis or death.
While the results are indeed alarming, it’s definitely encouraging to see that former smokers do not necessarily have a higher risk of mortality or metastasis. The team of researchers recommend that radiation oncologists and urologists alike advise their patients on the dangers of smoking and how it relates to prostate cancer treatment.