A meta-analysis published Online First in JAMA’s Archives of Dermatology shows that smoking seems to be linked to a higher risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer.

Around 97% of skin cancers originate in cell tissue in the skin (epithelial cancer) and are either basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) or squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), which are categorized as non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC). NMSC cases are increasing all over the world. It is estimated that there are 2 to 3 million new NMSC cases every year.

The researchers led by Jo Leonardi-Bee, Ph.D. from Nottingham University’s UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies conducted a meta-analysis of 25 studies, stating:

“This systematic review and meta-analysis has shown a clear and consistent relationship between smoking and cutaneous SCC, with a 52 percent significant increase in odds. However, no clear association was noted between smoking and BCC or NMSC. The largest effect sizes for the association with cutaneous SCC were seen in current or ever smokers, with smaller effect sizes occurring in former smokers.”

The team point out that their findings can be generalized due to the fact that the studies they reviewed included results from 11 countries on four continents and because all study cohorts involved middle-aged to elderly populations.

They conclude:

“This study highlights the importance for clinicians to actively survey high-risk patients, including current smokers, to identify early skin cancers, since early diagnosis can improve prognosis because early lesions are simpler to treat compared with larger or neglected lesions.”

Written By Petra Rattue