New research published in JAMA has found that cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing subsequent primary cancers (SPCs) and later dying from said cancers when compared to the general public. The grim news acts as a reminder to cancer survivors about the need for continued monitoring.
"These findings highlight the importance of ongoing surveillance and efforts to prevent new cancers among survivors," said lead author, Hyuna Sung, PhD. "The number of cancer survivors who develop new cancers is projected to increase, but, until now, comprehensive data on the risk of SPCs among survivors of adult-onset cancers has been limited."
The researchers looked at data collected from 12 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries in the US. Comprised of information on almost 1.54 million cancer survivors aged 20-84 from 1992 to 2017, the analysis determined that 156,442 were diagnosed with an SPC and 88,818 died of an SPC.
The findings suggest that smoking or obesity was associated with a majority of SPC incidence and mortality among all survivors. While there was significant variation in the kinds of primary cancers that were associated with SPCs, gender also played a big role. For example, the team found that male survivors of laryngeal cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma were at the highest risk of developing an SPC, while male gallbladder cancer survivors had the highest chance of dying from an SPC. Meanwhile, female survivors of laryngeal and esophageal cancers had the highest chance of developing an SPC, with laryngeal cancer survivors facing the greatest risk of mortality.
"These findings reinforce the importance of coordinated efforts by primary care clinicians to mitigate the risks of SPCs through survivorship care, with greater focus on lifestyle factors, including smoking cessation, weight management, physical activity, and healthy eating, as receipt of counseling or treatment (tobacco only) to aid in the adoption of healthy habits," said senior author Ahmedin Jemal, PhD.