There is growing empirical and clinical interest in purported associations between smoking and the aggravation of cancer symptoms and treatment side effects, such as pain. Both pain and smoking are highly prevalent among persons with cancer, and there is recent evidence to suggest that cancer patients who continue to smoke despite their diagnosis experience greater pain than nonsmokers. Accordingly, the main goal of this cross-sectional study was to examine associations between multiple levels of smoking status and several pain-related outcomes among a sample of 224 cancer patients about to begin chemotherapy. Patients completed self-report measures of pain severity, pain-related distress, and pain-related interference, as well as a demographics questionnaire. Results indicated that persons who continued to smoke despite being diagnosed with cancer reported more severe pain than never smokers, F (2, 215)=3.47, p<.05. Current smokers also reported greater interference from pain than either former or never smokers, F (2, 215)=5.61, p<.01. Among former smokers, an inverse relation between pain severity and the number of years since quitting smoking was observed, r (104)=-.26, p<.01. These data suggest that continued smoking despite a cancer diagnosis is associated with greater pain severity and interference from pain; however, future research is warranted to determine the directionality of this relationship.
Copyright © 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.