Patients getting cancer for a second time is becoming more common

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Many of us know someone affected by cancer. New data shows one in five new cases in the United States are due to people getting cancer for a second time.

Dr. Philip McCarthy, a Professor of Oncology and Internal Medicine at Roswell Park Cancer Institute said, “People need to know they may be at risk for developing other cancers.”

Second cancer is not a reoccurrence of the original tumor. It means it has affected a different site or tissue.

Dr. McCarthy said it’s complex to pinpoint what causes this for each patient.

“There’s some people in whom cancers have a tendency to form. So once they’ve had once cancer, they are at risk of developing a second one,” he said.

A second tumor can also come from some gene mutations, risk factors like smoking, even treatments such as radiation can cause it.

“In the old days, when we used to treat patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, they received a wide amount of radiation to their chest. Now the move is towards an involved field, or chemotherapy only,” Dr. McCarthy said.

If people develop the disease, it can be traumatizing knowing what lies ahead. However, Dr. McCarthy said it can also be helpful. “Sometimes people are better able to deal with it, especially if they’re educated up front.”

That’s why doctors say it’s important to get monitored regularly.

Doctors also say treatment of a second cancer can be a challenge. There’s a limit to using some drugs to avoid heart or nerve damage. Also, radiation can’t be used on the same area of your body more than once.

If you get a second cancer, physicians stress say don’t give up.  There are resources and people to help you.

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