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15 March 2017


Patients successfully treated for Hodgkin lymphoma face a high risk of developing cancers of all kinds, according to a new study.

The risk lasts for at least 30 years, but may be linked to family history of susceptibility to cancer, according to a study involving researchers in the UK, Germany and Sweden.

The link may also be aggravated by family lifestyle factors - such as use of tobacco - as well as genetics, the researchers say.

The researchers studied the fate of some 9,500 patients and compared them with more than 28,000 relatives for the project, reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology yesterday.

They found that overall patients faced a 2.4 times increased risk of developing another cancer after surviving Hodgkin lymphoma.

About 30% of the patients had at least one immediate relative who had developed cancer. Those with two or more relatives with first-degree cancer faced a 3.4 times increased risk of developing a second cancer.

The most common types of cancer developed by former Hodgkin patients were non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukaemia, cancers of the lung, breast and bowel and non-melanoma skin cancers.

And women diagnosed with the disease before the age of 35 had a 14% risk of developing breast cancer. After the age of 35, the risk was just 3%.

Researcher Dr Amit Sud, of the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: 'Younger women who have been treated with radiotherapy to the chest for Hodgkin lymphoma are already screened for breast cancer, but our study suggests that we should be looking at ways of monitoring survivors for other forms of cancer too, and potentially offering preventative interventions.

'After patients are cured, they no longer encounter oncologists, so it's important that other healthcare providers are aware of the increased risk to Hodgkin lymphoma survivors to improve early diagnosis of second cancers.'

Martin Ledwick, from Cancer Research UK, said: 'People with Hodgkin's lymphoma are at a greater risk of developing a second cancer, particularly in those who were treated with radiotherapy approach that was used a few decades ago. A family history of breast cancer adds to their risk. This study is the first to show that a family history of lung and bowel cancer also play a role.

'The research shows that a family history of lung cancer carries the highest risk, and as the risk hasn't decreased as treatment has changed to use less radiotherapy, there may be factors other than heredity, such as family smoking habits, that are influencing the risk.'

Journal of Clinical Oncology 13 March 2017


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