How common are new cancers in cancer survivors?

November 22, 2017

Bottom Line: One quarter of adults 65 or older and 11 percent of younger patients diagnosed with cancer from 2009 to 2013 had a prior cancer history.

Why The Research Is Interesting: The number of cancer survivors in the United States is growing and is estimated to reach 26 million by 2040. Understanding how common a subsequent cancer is among patients with a history of cancer is important for understanding ongoing or new cancer risk in survivors.

Who and When: 740,990 people diagnosed with new cancer from 2009 through 2013

What (Study Measures): Prior cancer among people diagnosed with a new cancer

How (Study Design): This is an observational study. Because researchers are not intervening for purposes of the study they cannot control natural differences that could explain study findings.

Authors: Caitlin C. Murphy, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and coauthors

Results: The frequency of prior cancer among patients diagnosed with new cancer ranged from 3.5 percent to 36.9 percent and most prior cancers were diagnosed in a different cancer site.

Limitations: The order of multiple cancers diagnosed in the same year could not be determined.

Study Conclusions: Patients diagnosed with new cancer who have a history of cancer may be excluded from clinical trials and underrepresented in research. Understanding the impact of prior cancer is important to improve research, disease outcomes and patient experience.

Related material: The commentary, "Incident Cancer in Cancer Survivors - When Cancer Lurks in the Background," by Nancy E. Davidson, M.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle

For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.3605)

Editor's Note: The article contains funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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The JAMA Network Journals

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