Advances in radiation therapy and chemotherapy have increased the chances of survival for many people with cancer today. People with cancer are often living longer, so it's becoming more important to study the long-term effects of cancer treatment. Of all the possible late complications of cancer treatment, developing a second cancer is one of the most serious.
People can have more than one cancer in their lifetime. Cancer is a very common disease, and not all second cancers are due to cancer treatment. For example, certain inherited gene changes can increase a woman's risk for both breast and ovarian cancer. Also, being exposed to certain cancercausing substances, like tobacco smoke, can put a person at higher risk for several different cancers, such as cancers of the lung, larynx (voice box), throat, and mouth. Even though it is hard to separate out the exact cause of any one person's cancer, here we will try to focus on the risk of second cancers that may be linked to past cancer treatment.