Which Hodgkin Lymphoma Survivors Are at Risk of Second Cancers?
Cancer survivors may be affected by quite a few health problems, yet often a major concern is facing cancer again. If cancer comes back after treatment, this is known as recurrence. However, some cancer survivors may develop another type of cancer, known as a second cancer. New research shows that individuals who have had Hodgkin lymphoma have an increased risk of developing second cancers later in life, especially if they have a family history of a specific cancer (mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2). This is because previous treatment involving radiation therapy and chemotherapy may have led to permanent damage.
Those who were treated with radiotherapy have the highest risk of recurrence
The new research findings suggest Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivors are 2.4 times more likely to develop a second cancer of any type, as opposed to individuals of the same age and gender among the general population. The researchers found that individuals treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma were 3.5 times more likely to develop lung cancer if they had a close relative with the disease. Moreover, those with a family history of breast or bowel cancer had a two-fold increased risk of developing the cancers themselves. “People with Hodgkin's lymphoma are at a greater risk of developing a second cancer, particularly in those who were treated with radiotherapy approach that was used a few decades ago. A family history of breast cancer adds to their risk. This study is the first to show that a family history of lung and bowel cancer also play a role,” said Martin Ledwick, head cancer information nurse at Cancer Research UK. While the research showed that a family history of lung cancer carries the highest risk, it did not show that the risk decreased with treatment changes, such as lesser dosages of radiotherapy. For this reason, it is believed that there may be other factors involved, aside from heredity, which are influencing the risk, including family smoking habits.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, was conducted by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research in London, along with researchers in Sweden and Germany. The research team analyzed data gathered from 9,522 individuals with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and 28,277 relatives of these individuals. 30% of individuals with Hodgkin’s lymphoma had one or more first-degree relatives with the cancer. It was found that those with a family history of cancer were 2.8 times more likely to develop a second cancer, in comparison to patients with no first-degree relatives with cancer, who were 2.2 times more likely to develop a second cancer. What’s more, individuals with two or more first-degree relatives with cancer were 3.4 times more likely to develop a second cancer. The most common second cancers indicated were non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, bowel cancer, and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Read on to learn more about the results of this study and what they mean for Hodgkin lymphoma survivors.