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American Cancer Society researchers looked at more than 2,500 colon cancer survivors in the United States. Slightly fewer than 1,100 died during an average of 7.5 years of follow-up, including about 450 who died due to colon cancer.
Compared to nonsmokers, cancer survivors who smoked were more than twice as likely to die from any cause or from colon cancer during the follow-up period, the study found.
The findings were published online Feb. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The results add to existing evidence that smoking is associated with higher risk of early death among colon cancer survivors, the researchers said. However, the association seen in the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Smokers may have more aggressive cancer or smoking may reduce the effectiveness of colon cancer treatment, according to the study's authors.
"Further research is needed to understand mechanisms whereby smoking may increase colorectal cancer-specific [death] and determine if quitting smoking after diagnosis lowers the risk of colorectal cancer-specific [death]," Peter Campbell and colleagues concluded.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, Feb. 2, 2015