Add cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma to the list of cancers caused by smoking.

Jo Leonardi-Bee, PhD, of the U.K. Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University of Nottingham in England, and colleagues reviewed findings of 25 studies from 11 countries across four continents.

They found that smoking increased risk for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by 52 percent. This risk was most pronounced among current or ever smokers, with smaller effect sizes occurring in former smokers.Smoking did not affect risk of basal cell carcinoma or non-melanoma skin cancers. Their findings appear online in the Archives of Dermatology.

“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,” study authors write.

In an editorial accompanying the new study, dermatologists Joris A. C. Verkouteren, MD, and Tamar Nijsten, MD, PhD, from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, agree that dermatologists must step up and inform patients about the cutaneous adverse events of smoking.

“We believe all this can be done in a busy dermatology clinic,” they write. “In contrast to several risk factors of SCC, including prior UV radiation exposure, smoking is a modifiable factor. Thus, active risk reduction by smoking cessation is possible,” they write. “Furthermore, physicians could make use of the current cancer experience in motivating patients to discontinue smoking, which has many additional important health benefits.”

[Source: Archives of Dermatology]