Cervical cancer survivors prone to other cancers

Women who survive cervical cancer are at increased risk for developing other cancers decades later, according to a report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The increased cancer risk is primarily seen in women who were treated with radiation therapy and involves organs that lie near the cervix.

“Previous studies have indicated that the risk of second cancers is increased among cervical cancer survivors, but overall and (body) site-specific risks among very long-term survivors were unclear,” Dr. Anil K. Chaturvedi, from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues note.

The findings are based on an analysis of data for 104,760 cervical cancer survivors drawn from several Scandinavian countries and the U.S. The researchers calculated the rate of second cancers over more than 40 years of follow-up.

On the overall analysis, the survivor group was 30 percent more likely to develop a cancer than were women in the general population. Further analysis showed that the rates of human papillomavirus (HPV)- and smoking-related cancers were elevated in survivors who had radiotherapy and those who did not.

Survivors treated with radiotherapy had an elevated risk for cancers in close proximity to the cervix, including cancers of the colon, rectum, anus, bladder, ovaries and genitals. By contrast, no increased risk for these cancers was seen in survivors who did not receive radiotherapy.

The 40-year cumulative rate of a second cancer was higher for survivors diagnosed with cervical cancer before rather than after they were 50 years old: 22.2 vs. 16.4 percent, respectively.

“The most important finding is that even 40 years after a diagnosis of cervical cancer, survivors remain at increased risk of second cancers. These results are consistent with previous studies that showed increased second cancer risks beyond 30 years of follow-up, but that did not have sufficient data on time periods beyond 30 years,” Chaturvedi told Reuters Health.

“The increased second cancer risk among cervical cancer survivors underscores the need for screening or regular medical surveillance,” he emphasized.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, November 7, 2007.

Provided by ArmMed Media