Many cancer survivors continue to smoke long after their initial diagnosis, according to research published online in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

J. Lee Westmaas, Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of registry data for 2,938 survivors of 10 cancers to assess smoking patterns many years after the initial diagnosis.

The researchers found that, about nine years following diagnosis, 9.3 percent of cancer survivors were current (past 30-day) smokers. The prevalence of smoking was highest among survivors of bladder (17.2 percent), lung (14.9 percent), and ovarian (11.6 percent) cancer. Most current smokers (83 percent) smoked daily, and the average habit was 14.7 cigarettes per day.

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Forty percent of those who smoked daily had a habit of more than 15 cigarettes per day. Among cancer survivors, current smoking was associated with younger age, lower education, lower income, and greater alcohol consumption. Approximately one-third of current smokers intended to quit smoking. Cancer survivors were less likely to intend to quit smoking if they were older, married, or smoked more heavily.

“Findings can be used to identify survivors most at risk for continued smoking and to inform tailoring of cessation treatments for survivors,” the authors write.

  1. Westmaas, J. Lee, PhD, et al. “Prevalence and Correlates of Smoking and Cessation-Related Behavior among Survivors of Ten Cancers: Findings from a Nationwide Survey Nine Years after Diagnosis.” Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-14-0046. August 6, 2014.