April 5 (UPI) -- Smoking after a cancer diagnosis can lead to soaring healthcare costs, a new study says.
On average, smoking after a cancer diagnosis can lift costs by an additional $11,000 per patient, according to research published Friday in JAMA Open Network.
"These data estimate that smoking could result in $3.4 billion in additional cancer treatment costs national if patients continue to smoke after being diagnosed with cancer," Graham Warren, vice chairman at the radiation oncology center at the University of South Carolina and study lead author, said in a news release. "We know that continued smoking can lead to bad treatment outcomes for patients with cancer. The 2014 Surgeon General's Report concluded that continued smoking after a cancer diagnosis increases the risk of dying from cancer and other smoking-related diseases. This is really the first time that the economic burden of smoking on cancer treatment has been estimated."
The researchers estimated the extra costs associated with smoking and how it interfered with existing cancer treatments. The study, however, did not factor the cost of smoking cessation on overall costs.
"With the rising costs of cancer treatment, we really wanted to understand the economic impact for cancer patients," said Michael Cummings, co-leader of tobacco control research at Medical University of South Carolina and study author.
The researchers say learning about these costs will better prepare them on how to deal with the problem.
In all, smoking accounts for about 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The best decision a patient with cancer can make is to decide to quit smoking. The next step is to put resources into identifying the best treatment approach for all cancer patients, including those who smoke when they are diagnosed with cancer," Warren said.