Leeds research: Smoking may limit body’s ability to fight skin cancer

University of Leeds | February 2019 | Leeds research: Smoking may limit body’s ability to fight skin cancer

A study of more than 700 melanoma patients, mainly from the north of England, provides evidence to suggest that smoking may blight the immune response against melanoma and reduce survival.

The study led by experts at the University of Leeds found that people diagnosed with melanoma who also smoked/ had history of smoking are 40 per cent less likely to survive their melanoma than non-smokers within a decade of diagnosis.

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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.

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.

“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.” (Source: University of Leeds)

Read the press release from the University of Leeds 

This study was funded by Cancer Research UK and has been published in the journal Cancer Research

Pozniak, J. et al.| 2019| Genetic and environmental determinants of immune response to cutaneous melanoma| Cancer Research| DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-2864

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