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Second cancer chances no more after radiation (except a few more skin cancers)

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Jim Marshall (not a doctor) said ...

Radiation is one cause of cancers.

So, will the radiation you got to treat your prostate cancer increase your risk of developing other cancers as well?

The answer from this study is:

  • No more than the general population;
  • Except skin cancers – a slightly increased risk (anywhere on the body, not just in the radiation area);

So, get a regular skin cancer check. Your local GP can do it. There are also specialist clinics that do it (often bulk billed, at least for pensioners).

... end Jim

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Jul 1;83(3):953-9. Epub 2011 Dec 13.

Incidence of secondary cancer development after high-dose intensity-modulated radiotherapy and image-guided brachytherapy for the treatment of localized prostate cancer.

Zelefsky MJ, Housman DM, Pei X, Alicikus Z, Magsanoc JM, Dauer LT, St Germain J, Yamada Y, Kollmeier M, Cox B, Zhang Z.


Department of Radiation Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.



To report the incidence and excess risk of second malignancy (SM) development compared with the general population after external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) and brachytherapy to treat prostate cancer.


Between 1998 and 2001, 1,310 patients with localized prostate cancer were treated with EBRT (n = 897) or brachytherapy (n = 413). We compared the incidence of SMs in our patients with that of the general population extracted from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results data set combined with the 2000 census data.


The 10-year likelihood of SM development was 25% after EBRT and 15% after brachytherapy (p = .02). The corresponding 10-year likelihood for in-field SM development in these groups was 4.9% and 1.6% (p = .24). Multivariate analysis showed that EBRT vs. brachytherapy and older age were the only significant predictors for the development of all SMs (p = .037 and p = .030), with a trend for older patients to develop a SM. The increased incidence of SM for EBRT patients was explained by the greater incidence of skin cancer outside the radiation field compared with that after brachytherapy (10.6% and 3.3%, respectively, p = .004). For the EBRT group, the 5- and 10-year mortality rate was 1.96% and 5.1% from out-of field cancer, respectively; for in-field SM, the corresponding mortality rates were 0.1% and 0.7%. Among the brachytherapy group, the 5- and 10-year mortality rate related to out-of field SM was 0.8% and 2.7%, respectively. Our observed SM [second malignancy] rates after prostate RT were not significantly different from the cancer incidence rates in the general population.


Using modern sophisticated treatment techniques, we report low rates of in-field bladder and rectal SM risks after prostate cancer RT. Furthermore, the likelihood of mortality secondary to a SM was unusual. The greater rate of SM observed with EBRT vs. brachytherapy was related to a small, but significantly increased, number of skin cancers in the EBRT patients compared with that of the general population.

Copyright © 2012

This extract can be found on http://PubMed.com, and is in the public domain.

On PubMed.com there will be a link to the full paper (often $30, sometimes free).

Any highlighting (except the title) is not by the author, but by Jim Marshall.

Jim is not a doctor.

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