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Smoking Cessation Gives Survival Advantage for Breast Cancer Patients Treated with Conservation Surgery and Radiation

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (October 20, 2003) — A new study by physicians at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia finds that women treated with breast-conservation surgery and radiation for their breast cancer live longer if they stop smoking. What's more, survival also is affected by smoking even if women quit before their diagnosis. Fox Chase radiation oncologist Khanh H. Nguyen, MD, presented the study results today at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Association of Society of Therapeutic Radiology Oncology (ASTRO) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"While smoking is a putative risk factor for developing breast cancer, its impact on treatment results has been uncertain," explained Nguyen.

The study examines the influence of smoking on long-term outcomes of patients with breast cancer treated with breast-conservation therapy. The study evaluated 1,039 non-smokers and 861 smokers who were treated with conservation therapy at Fox Chase from March 1970 to December 2002. The median follow-up of these patients was 67 months. The analysis compared local control, distant metastases, deaths from breast cancer and overall survival in smokers and non-smokers.

"This analysis shows that smoking, either past or present, was associated with increases in distant metastases and deaths from breast cancer," said Nguyen. "Even after we adjusted for different prognostic factors, those who continued to smoke during treatment did not live as long as those who had stopped.

"Our study suggests that smoking cessation remains an integral component in the comprehensive management of breast cancer," Nguyen added.

Other study authors include Gary M. Freedman, MD, Alexandra L. Hanlon, PhD, Nicos Nicolaou, MD, and Penny R. Anderson, MD, of Fox Chase Cancer Center's department of radiation oncology.


Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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