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Warning for smoking childhood cancer survivors

30th July 2008

Children who survived cancer and are most at risk of developing a second cancer are more likely to smoke than other childhood cancer survivors, research has shown.

Overall a smaller proportion of childhood cancer survivors smoke than in the general population.

But a study published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that children who had been treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, soft tissue sarcomas and Wilms’ tumour were the most likely to smoke out of this proportion.

These three cancers put children at increased risk of developing further new cancers due to the particular radiotherapy regimes used to treat them.

The smoking link was uncovered after researchers at the University of Birmingham studied more than 10,000 childhood cancer survivors.

Study author Dr Clare Frobisher described the findings as “worrying”.

“Although our results show that people who survived childhood cancer are less likely to smoke than the general population, it’s clear that more work needs to be done to make sure they are aware of their increased risk of a second cancer and other related health problems if they smoke,” she added.

Commenting on the study, Cancer Research UK’s head of tobacco control, Elspeth Lee, said: “It’s crucial that young people who’ve been through treatment for childhood cancer are given all the necessary information and support to discourage them from taking up smoking.”

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