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Quitting smoking after renal cell carcinoma diagnosis improves prognosis

17th May 2023

Individuals quitting smoking after their diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma potentially have improved overall and progression-free survival, according to new research.

The incidence of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) varies considerably across the globe. Data suggests the highest incidence of this cancer occurs in developed countries and among smokers, people who are obese and those with hypertension.

In fact, cigarette smoking is a recognised, independent risk factor for advanced renal cell carcinoma. In addition, it is also clear that quitting smoking reduces the risks of developing and dying from RCC. While smoking cessation lowers the risk of developing RCC, whether quitting smoking following a RCC diagnosis affects prognosis is uncertain.

For the present study, researchers investigated if post-diagnosis smoking cessation impacted upon disease progression and mortality risks among smokers diagnosed with RCC. The researchers followed newly diagnosed RCC patients over several years and repeatedly assessed smoking behaviour. Using regression models with adjustments for factors such as age, gender and the amount of cigarettes smoked, researchers estimated survival and disease progression.

Quitting smoking and survival

There were 212 patients with a median age of 56.1 years (80%) with evaluable data and followed for a 8.2 years. Among this cohort, 84 stopped smoking during follow-up.

Over the next eight years, 110 cases of disease progression, 100 total deaths and 77 cancer-specific deaths occurred. Quitting smoking was associated with improved survival based on a lower risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio, HR = 0.51, 95% CI 0.31 – 0.85). Additionally, disease progression was also lower among quitters (HR = 0.45, 95% CI 0.29 – 0.71). There was also a reduced risk of cancer-specific mortality for those who stopped (HR = 0.54, 95% CI 0.31 – 0.93).

The benefit of quitting smoking was evident across all of the different subgroups, such as light smokers versus moderate-heavy smokers and those with early-stage versus late-stage tumours. These findings led the authors to conclude that smoking cessation treatments should form part of the management of RCC patients.