Smoking, Vaping Linked to Symptom Burden in Cancer

Current smoking and vaping are associated with greater symptom burden among adults with cancer.

HealthDay News — Current smoking and vaping are associated with greater symptom burden among adults with cancer, according to a study published online May 22 in Cancer.

Sarah N. Price, Ph.D., from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues examined the association between tobacco use and symptom burden among 1,409 adult cancer survivors. The association between cigarette smoking and vaping on cancer-related symptom burden (fatigue, pain, emotional problems) and quality of life (QoL) was assessed.

The researchers found that the weighted rate of cigarette smoking was 14.21 percent and the weighted rate of vaping was 2.88 percent. Current smoking was associated with greater fatigue, pain, emotional problems, and worse QoL, while current vaping was associated with greater fatigue, pain, and emotional problems, but not worse QoL. There was no association observed for higher cancer symptom burden with reduced interest in quitting, likelihood of quitting, or odds of past-year quit attempts.

“Our finding that greater symptom burden was not associated with reduced interest in quitting smoking directly contradicts common assumptions that patients with cancer are resistant to tobacco cessation treatment because of their symptom burden. If smoking cessation is viewed as part of cancer symptom management, it may be more acceptable to both patients and the clinicians who treat them,” Price said in a statement. “Future research should also explore whether better management of cancer symptoms like pain, fatigue, or emotional problems helps survivors quit smoking.”

One author disclosed ties to Imbrium Therapeutics, another to Castle Biosciences; one author has testified on behalf of plaintiffs who have filed litigation against the tobacco industry.

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