Do You Know About Second Cancers?

By Medical Expert Team

Dec 13 , 2017 | 2 min read

With the advent of technology and research in medical sciences, today the survival rate of cancer patients is increasing marginally. Cancer patients can be affected by several other health problems; however, their most significant concern is facing cancer again. If cancer manifests again after a successful treatment, it is known as Recurrence. However, some cancer patients can develop new cancer again, in a different site which is unrelated to previous cancer. It is known as ‘Second Cancer’. It is possible for cancer survivors to develop new cancer even after they have survived the first one.

There are certain cancers for which the risk of getting a second cancer is higher. However, some types do not show a direct correlation if the risk is increased. The second cancer research has primarily been focused on cancers that have the highest rate of successful treatment.

What are the Risk Factors for Second Cancers?

The chances of second cancer depend on several factors. Age, family history, genetics, site and type of cancer is considered in accessing second cancers. The overview given below will describe risks factors for second cancers.

1.    Type of First Cancer

The type of first cancer will determine how likely a second cancer is possible. Since every cancer is unique, and there are several treatment options employed for each of them, researchers are yet to determine if second cancer manifests because of the treatment or the original first cancer.

2.    Age when the First Cancer was treated

According to studies, children and young adults are a higher risk of developing second cancers when chemotherapy and radiation are employed. However, with age, the risk of second cancers increases significantly.

3.    Types of Treatments


Chemotherapy is a category of cancer treatment that uses anti-cancer drugs to treat cancer. In advance stages of cancer when high doses of medicines are given, there is an increased chance that the survivor may develop a second cancer.


Cancer patients who receive a higher dose of radiation are at an increased risk of developing second cancer. Typically, the amount of radiation received during the first cancer treatment has a direct impact on the risk of second cancer. People who were diagnosed and later treated with cancer during their childhood have an increased risk of developing second cancer.

Bone Marrow Transplant

People who have undergone bone marrow transplant are at an increased risk of developing second cancer. This is related to the treatment received and the effects on immune system. Genetic predisposition also has a part to play in second cancers and bone marrow transplant.

4.    Family History

People with a family history of cancer are at a higher risk of developing second cancers. Cancer survivors where cancer, ‘runs in the family’ are an increased risk of developing it again. In such cases, cancer survivors must regularly follow up with their oncologist.

5.    Lifestyle Choices

After surviving cancer for the first time, people who continue with poor lifestyle habits are at a higher risk of developing cancer again. Excessive use of alcohol, smoking, unhealthy diet choices can increase the risk.

Symptoms of Second Cancers

Second cancers can have symptoms similar to the type and site of new cancer. However, specific symptoms that can point towards second cancer are -

  • Bone Pain
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Changes in vision
  • Severe headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Lump in breast

These symptoms do not essentially mean that a person has developed cancer again. It is best to consult an oncologist for a thorough diagnosis. Max Healthcare is among the best cancer hospitals in India with the first ever facility in northern India with Novalis Tx for IMRT/IGRT. With world-class facilities and treatment options, our experts specialize in diagnosing and treating cancers while providing intensive care to the patients.

Written and Verified by:

Medical Expert Team