What are the risk factors for developing a second cancer?

The following is an overview of some of the risk factors for developing second cancers:
  • Type of cancer: The type of original cancer you had may affect your risk for a second cancer because some cancers require treatment with radiation or high doses of certain types of chemotherapy. It is not yet clear to researchers if the second cancer is caused by the treatment or by the original cancer, or by a combination of the two. Another possibility is that both the original cancer and a second cancer share certain risk factors such as an underlying cause, environmental exposure, or genetic predisposition.
  • Age at time of treatment: Children and young adults have a higher risk of second cancers related to treatment with radiation or chemotherapy than older adults have. Younger survivors have more at-risk years for second cancers. Generally, you should always be alert for symptoms of a second cancer.
  • With age, the risk of cancer increases even among those who have never had cancer. Researchers continue to study second cancers in survivors. They hope to develop treatment methods that reduce the risk of developing cancer again. Generally, a healthy lifestyle may help minimize this risk.
  • Type of chemotherapy: High doses of chemotherapy medicines are associated with a small number of second cancers in some survivors.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.