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Second Cancers on the Rise in the US

Researchers have uncovered a disturbing trend in cancer within the United States that has captured their attention. Second cancers, those that strike people who have already battled cancer before, are showing an increase that is leaving patients especially devastated.

Second cancers are those that strike people who have had cancer before. These cases are not returns of the original tumor or a spread of it. Rather, they are a completely new type of cancer, often at a different site. The rate of secondary cancers has climbed to the point researchers now say about 1 in 5 of every β€œnew” case of cancer diagnosed in the United States involves a person who has had the disease before.

To arrive at those findings, researchers looked at cancer cases in the United States over time. They found that about 19 percent of cases now are second – or more – cases involving the same patients. Back in the 1970s, the number was only 9 percent. Between then and now, the number of first cases rose by about 70 percent. The number of second cancer cases climbed by about 300 percent during the same period.

The rise of second cancer cases can have a profound effect on patients. The first time around, experts say, patients tend to fear the unknown. The second time around, they understand what is involved in treatments and may suffer from anxiety as a result.

The findings, researchers say, point to a need to access cancer patients more aggressively genetically to determine areas to monitor. Breast cancer patients, for example, who also display genetic mutations for other forms of cancer should be monitored closely so precancerous growths can be caught more readily.

The bottom line is that even if cancer is successfully battled once does not mean a person is out of the woods so to say. Continued monitoring can prove crucial for helping patients avoid second cases while enabling doctors to stop tumor growth in its tracks earlier and more effectively while sparing patients the rigors that go along with more aggressive treatments.

People who are concerned about cancer risks and the potential for second cancer development are urged to discuss the issues with their healthcare providers. Early intervention is often critical and that tends to hinge on early risk assessments.

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