You Should Know - Smoke More, Worse Cancer

Bladder cancer course affected by smoking intensity and cancer markers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The biggest risk factor for bladder cancer is smoking. That’s well known. Now, researchers have discovered that how much a person smokes has an impact on the course of the disease.

Study results showed that people who have smoked for more than 30 years were more likely to develop a more aggressive and deadlier form of bladder cancer. The same study found that the presence of certain molecules can also predict the outcome of the disease.

An estimated 73,500 adults in the US will learn they have bladder cancer this year.

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Richard J. Cote, MD, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and Anirban Mitra, MD, PhD, of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, led the investigation.

The researchers examined and analyzed the bladder cancer tumors of 212 people treated for the disease between 1987 and 1996.

Patients were divided into three groups. People in group 1 smoked 20 cigarettes a day for 30 years. Group 2 individuals smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day for 31-40 years. And people in group 3 smoked for more than 40 years.

According to the study, people who smoked for more than 30 years or smoked more cigarettes per day were more likely than non-smokers and light smokers to develop an aggressive and deadly form of bladder cancer. The outcome for these individuals was poor.

So researchers have not only shown that smoking can increase a person’s risk of developing bladder cancer, but also that the intensity of smoking may make the disease worse.

Researchers also discovered nine cancer markers that effectively forecasted individuals at highest risk of dying from the disease. Individuals who had mutations in six of these markers had the worst outlook.

These findings could help physicians determine which bladder cancer patients require more aggressive treatment of a cancer that tends to return.

"The study's findings are extremely clinically relevant as bladder cancer is one of the most expensive malignancies to treat," said Dr. Cote, who is director of the Genitourinary Malignancies Program at University of Miami's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

He concluded, “"Personalized patient management is urgently needed for this disease, as current clinical stratification cannot predict outcomes of individual patients."

This work was published January 14 in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. Grants from the National Institutes of Health funded this study. No conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
January 18, 2013
Last Updated:
January 19, 2013