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Smokers fail to quit after cancer diagnosis

People did not quit smoking after being diagnosed with cancer due to the failure of initial treatment and worries about the cost of further treatment, a US study found

People did not quit smoking after being diagnosed with cancer due to the failure of initial treatment and worries about the cost of further treatment, a US study found


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People kept on smoking after being diagnosed with cancer because they felt the treatment was becoming less effective and due to the rising cost to them and their healthcare provider, a US study found.

Researchers from South Carolina and Florida developed a method of economic modelling to evaluate cost using data from a report by the US surgeon general in 2014.

They examined the expected rates of treatment failure in a non-smoking patient population, the prevalence of smoking, the odds of initial treatment failing due to smoking versus non-smoking behaviour, and the cost of further treatment after the initial failure.

Effectie mitigation strategies

Failure rates ascribed to continued smoking were higher under conditions where cure rates from initial treatment were expected to be higher in non-smokers.

Incremental and additional costs were estimated to be over $10,000 per person, which if generalised to the population of people diagnosed with cancer in the US each year would be a potential extra cost of $3.4 billion.

The authors said limitations to their study included the need for conservative estimates that did not account for additional costs of non-cancer morbidity and mortality.

But given the substantial attributable treatment failures and cost associated with continued smoking, they said development and implementation of effective mitigation strategies appeared to be financially justified.


Compiled by Dion Smyth, lecturer-practitioner in cancer and palliative care at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Birmingham City University

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