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For many years, I have written about the dangers of smoking in relation to cancer, and not only cancer of the lung. Many other cancers are associated with smoking, including bladder cancer.
Now a new study not only shows a link between smoking and the risk of developing cancer, but also a strong link between continuing to smoke and the chance of dying from the cancer.
In this study, smoking was found to not only cause bladder cancer, it also affects its course, in that people who smoke more have a greater likelihood of developing a more aggressive and deadly form of this cancer.
This study was recently published online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
As an oncologist, I have known for years that smoking is one of the most common causes of bladder cancer, and I have written about this in the past. But now, startling data is available regarding a link to smoking and how the disease progresses.
In this study, researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California analyzed bladder tumors and smoking history in 212 patients recruited through the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance Program between 1987 and 1996.
The researchers found that the bladder cancers that developed in individuals who smoked intensely were more likely to be deadly than bladder cancers that developed in those who never smoked, or who smoked less.
The study also revealed that changes in particular proteins are often present in bladder cancers that have become deadly. This finding of nine molecular markers that can predict bladder cancer prognosis may assist in designing treatment plans in the future.
Patients with abnormalities in six to nine markers had a very poor outcome, raising the possibility that these individuals could have benefited from more aggressive treatments.
Because the number of changes in these proteins was directly proportional to patients’ health outcomes, the findings confirm the theory that an accumulation of changes is more important than individual changes in determining the characteristics of a given cancer.
The link between smoking intensity and prognosis found in this study points to the incrementally harmful effects of smoking. Yes, the more you smoke, the worse your cancer may be, even more reason for all smokers to quit.
Dr. C. Joseph Bennett is a board-certified radiation oncologist and a member of the Citrus County Unit of the American Cancer Society. Watch “Navigating Cancer” on WYKE TV at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and at 10 a.m. Thursdays. If you have any suggestions for topics, or have any questions, contact him at 522 N. Lecanto Highway, Lecanto, FL 34461, or email email@example.com.