Young Cancer Survivors at Risk for 2nd Cancers

Children and young adults who successfully battle cancer may find a need to keep up with more watchful health screenings down the road. New research indicates that those who fight cancer prior to the age of 40 are more likely to witness the development of a second form of cancer during some point of their lives.

The latest research indicating a higher incidence rate of second cancers in younger patients was conducted by the University of California’s Benioff Children’s Hospital. There researchers looked at data from the U.S. National Cancer Institute to determine their findings. They discovered that over the course of 30 years, about 14 percent of young cancer patients developed another, different form of cancer. The second cancer occurrences most typically happened within 15 years of the first. Those treated for cancer between the ages of 15 and 39, in fact, were about 60 percent more likely to develop a second cancer. That is compared with cancer patients age 40 and up who were 10 percent more likely to develop a second cancer.

The findings indicate the old advice that once the five-year mark is reached the need to watch patients closely may not be entirely accurate. The researchers stress the findings show that there is a need for lifelong follow-up and regular medical screenings to detect second cancers should they form. This is especially so in patients who underwent radiation therapy. They were about 17 percent more likely to develop a second cancer than patients who did not receive radiation.

People who have fought cancer and won are urged to discuss follow-up care closely with their healthcare providers. While the odds of developing a second cancer increase for younger patients, this does not mean that a second cancer is inevitable. Patients, however, should be mindful and give themselves and their doctors every opportunity to detect a second cancer early to enable a greater chance for successful treatment.

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