1 in 12 cancer patients develops secondary cancer

Researchers suggest doctors increase screening for secondary cancer among patients, based on the high number who develop them.

By Stephen Feller

LOS ANGELES, July 13 (UPI) -- An analysis of statistics suggests patients with many of the most common cancers should be monitored more closely for the development of secondary cancers, report researchers in Los Angeles.

About 1 in 12 cancer patients goes on to develop a second, unrelated cancer, leading researchers at the University of California Los Angeles to make the recommendation for more screening.


The researchers say physicians need to rethink their post-treatment monitoring of cancer patients, especially in computed tomography scans of the chest and lungs, for occurrence of more lethal forms of the disease.

"The growing number of cancer survivors in the United States, coupled with the observed lethality of second primary cancers in our study suggests that investigation into effective detection and treatment strategies in this population is warranted," researchers write in the study.

For the study, published in the journal Cancer, researchers identified more than 2.1 million cancer patients in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database, of which 8.1 percent -- or 170,865 patients -- developed a second primary malignancy.

Among the patients who developed a secondary cancer, 13 percent died of their primary cancer but 55 percent died of their secondary cancer. Bladder cancer patients had the highest risk of developing a second cancer -- 34 percent -- and of those, 25 percent developed lung cancer.


Also at higher risk for developing a secondary cancer were non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients, who were at increased risk for lung, prostate and breast cancer.

"As clinicians, we can become so focused on surveilling our patients to see if a primary cancer recurs that we sometimes may not be aware that patients can be at risk of developing a second, unrelated cancer," Dr. Karim Chamie, an assistant professor of urology at UCLA, said in a press release.

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