A new research now finds that melanoma patients with a history of smoking cigarettes are 40 per cent less likely to survive their skin cancer than people who have never smoked.
The new study of more than 700 melanoma patients, funded by Cancer Research UK, published in Cancer Research, provides evidence to suggest that smoking may blight the immune response against melanoma and reduce survival.
The new findings, from researchers at the University of Leeds found that overall, smokers were 40 per cent less likely to survive their disease than people who have never smoked within a decade after their diagnosis.
In a subset of 156 patients who had the most genetic indicators for immune cells, smokers were around four and a half times less likely to survive from the cancer than people who had never smoked.
Given that reduced survival was found to be greatest for smokers in the group with most indicators of immune cells, the researchers think that smoking could directly affect how smokers’ bodies deal with the melanoma cancer cells.
The study, further found an association between smoking and a patient’s chance of survival from melanoma. But it could not determine for sure that smoking caused the drop in survival.
Lead author Julia Newton-Bishop, professor of dermatology at the University of Leeds, said, “The immune system is like an orchestra, with multiple pieces. This research suggests that smoking might disrupt how it works together in tune, allowing the musicians to continue playing but possibly in a more disorganised way.”
He added, “The result is that smokers could still mount an immune response to try and destroy the melanoma, but it appears to have been less effective than in never-smokers, and smokers were less likely to survive their cancer. Based on these findings, stopping smoking should be strongly recommended for people diagnosed with melanoma.
Researchers believe that smoking may have had an impact on patients’ immune systems and this may have altered their ability to fight their skin cancer, as well as increasing their risk of other health issues relating to smoking.