Patients unaware of link between smoking, bladder cancer

September 11, 2008

Although cigarette smoking accounts for up to half of all bladder cancer cases, few people are aware of the connection, including more than three-quarters of patients who have the disease, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor. This knowledge vacuum suggests that urologists need to communicate the risks of smoking to their patients and encourage them to quit, study authors say.

Although cigarette smoking accounts for up to half of all bladder cancer cases, few people are aware of the connection, including more than three-quarters of patients who have the disease, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor. This knowledge vacuum suggests that urologists need to communicate the risks of smoking to their patients and encourage them to quit, study authors say.

“The general public understands that cigarette smoking can lead to lung cancer, but very few people understand that it also can lead to bladder cancer,” said senior author James E. Montie, MD.

Dr. Montie notes that in the first 4 years after a smoker quits, the risk ofdeveloping bladder cancer decreases by 40%. The team searched the MEDLINE database for studiesfrom 1975 through 2007 that addressed the link between smoking and bladder cancer.One study found that only 22% of bladder cancer patients were aware that smokingwas a risk factor for their disease.

“A big gap exists between patient knowledge and their actual risk,” said lead author Seth A. Strope, MD. “Our study suggests that physicians must do a much better job of communicating the risk to our patients, and directing them toward smoking cessation programs.”

The study appears in The Journalof Urology (2008; 180:31-7).