Smoking may increase risk of prostate cancer recurrence

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

Smokers who have had prostate cancer surgery may want to think twice about lighting up. In addition to raising the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and other health problems, smoking increases the likelihood that prostate cancer will recur following a radical prostatectomy, according to a study presented at the American Urological Association (AUA) annual meeting in May 2011.

Researchers followed 321 current smokers and 309 nonsmokers who had their prostate cancer treated with surgery between 1989 and 2005. Compared to nonsmokers, men who smoked were more likely to experience a rise in their prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, a sign that cancer has returned; levels rose about 1% per pack-year smoked. (Smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for a year constitutes a pack-year; two packs a day for a year equals two pack-years.) Men who smoked 20 pack-years or more had the highest risk of recurrence. Also, recurrent cancers were larger and more aggressive in smokers than in nonsmokers.

“These data indicate that smoking history could provide valuable insight and should be included in risk-assessment models for prostate cancer,” said Dr. Joseph C. Presti, who presented the study’s findings.

Source: Ngo T, Lee J, Brooks J, et al. Smoking and Adverse Outcomes at Radical Prostatectomy. American Urological Association 2011 Annual Meeting; abstract 459.

Published June 10, 2011.

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