Secondary Cancer a Real Concern for Breast, Thyroid Cancer Survivors

Posted by North Texas Cancer Center at Wise on August 21st, 2017

As early detection and treatment protocols for cancer continue to improve and survivorship numbers rise, it is becoming clearer that a clean bill of health following treatment doesn’t necessarily mean patients are truly out of the woods. Secondary cancers have become an increasing concern for many survivors with one study showing they’ve grown to become the sixth most common group of malignancies diagnosed. While they follow skin, prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancers in incidence rates, they are a very real and serious concern for survivors who have already faced one form of cancer.

New research is shedding light on the secondary malignancies breast and thyroid cancer survivors are most likely to face. It seems people diagnosed and treated for either form of the disease are more likely to develop the other down the road. The study that arrived at those findings involved an analysis of secondary incidence rates for breast and thyroid cancer survivors. The studyfound significantly increased risks for breast cancer survivors to eventually develop thyroid cancer and vice versa. Researchers behind the effort believe the numbers will continue to rise as more people with cancer live long enough to develop secondary malignancies.

Although further study is required to determine the link between the two cancers, researchers have some ideas. They theorize that hormonal risks, genetic susceptibility, obesity and/or radiation exposure may play roles for some survivors to develop the secondary form of cancer.

Regardless of the causation behind the link, the study sheds light on the importance for cancer survivors and their doctors to be very mindful of the risk secondary malignancies pose. Cancer survivorship is on the rise with more than 15.5 million Americans living well beyond the initial diagnosis in 2015. That number is expected to climb to more than 20 million in the next few years. As those numbers rise, clinicians are becoming keenly aware of the unique medical needs survivors have with risk for secondary tumors being chief among them. If anything, the study puts a spotlight on the need for patients and clinicians to be proactive about follow-up care and routine screening for potential secondary malignancies.

Secondary cancers can be more challenging to treat, but success isn’t out of the question. This is especially so if a secondary cancer is detected in an early stage, making routine screening extremely important. People who have survived cancer are strongly urged to talk with their healthcare providers about recommended routine screenings. If breast or thyroid cancer has been diagnosed in the past, monitoring for signs of the other may very well be in order as the study indicates.

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise, a division of Choice Cancer Care, is now operating as the Cancer Center at Wise Regional and is one of the most renowned cancer treatment centers in Texas.

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise
Joined: February 24th, 2016
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