Smokers Diagnosed with Colon Cancer Die More Often

People who smoked before their diagnosis of colon cancer had a higher risk of dying — both from colon cancer and from other causes.

The risk was considerably higher in patients whose tumor was microsatellite high, but didn’t extend to those with rectal cancer or younger patients under age 50.

Drinking alcohol before diagnosis didn’t affect death rates.

Compared to people who had never smoked:

  • Smokers were 30 percent more likely to die of colon cancer.
  • Smokers were 50 percent more likely to die of any cause.
  • Smokers with tumors that were microsatellite-high were almost four times (3.83 percent) likely to die from colon cancer.

Researchers at the Seattle Family Colon Cancer Registry identified patients with colon or rectal cancer between 1998 and 2007  in 13 counties in western Washington State.  They telephoned them to discuss their smoking and alcohol use before diagnosis, and then followed up with links to the National Death Index.

Amanda I. Phipps PhD and her colleagues concluded,

In addition to an association with disease risk, smoking is associated with increased mortality after colorectal cancer diagnosis. This association is especially pronounced for colorectal cancer with high microsatellite instability.

SOURCEPhipps et al., Cancer, Early View, April 14,2011.

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