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Cancer in Youth Means Heightened Odds for Another Cancer Later

THURSDAY, May 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Survivors of teen and young-adult cancers may feel they've dodged a bullet, but they're not totally in the clear. A new study reveals a high risk of developing and dying from new cancers later on.

These young people require close monitoring, according to researchers at the American Cancer Society.

"The risk of subsequent primary cancer among cancer survivors has been extensively studied among childhood cancer survivors, but relatively less is known about AYA [adolescent and young-adult] cancer survivors," said lead author Hyuna Sung, a scientist at the cancer society.

"These results strongly stress the need to expand research on and strengthen efforts for surveillance of subsequent cancers among childhood and AYA cancer survivors," Sung added in a cancer society news release.

It will also be important to develop age-specific prevention strategies in this growing population of cancer survivors, Sung said.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from more than 170,000 U.S. patients diagnosed with one of 29 types of cancer, at ages 15 to 39, between 1975 and 2013. All were five-year survivors.

Thirty-five years after their initial diagnosis, one in seven of the survivors developed a new primary cancer and one in 16 died from a new cancer, the study authors said.

Compared to the general population, the cancer survivors had a 25% higher risk of cancer diagnosis and an 84% higher risk of cancer death.

There was significant variation between the first cancer type and the types of subsequent primary cancer and the level of the risk, the investigators found.

Female breast, lung, and colon cancers accounted for 36% of all subsequent cancers and 39% of all subsequent cancer deaths. Lung cancer accounted for 11% of all subsequent cancers and 24% of all deaths from subsequent cancers.

The study was published May 4 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"These findings underscore the critical role of providing high-quality post-treatment survivorship care to reduce the risk of subsequent cancers," Sung noted.

"Given the younger age at diagnosis, there often should be more opportunities for prevention and early detection of subsequent cancers in this survivor group," she added.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health offers advice for cancer survivors.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, May 4, 2022

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