Congratulations on completing your prostate cancer treatments and receiving the “all clear” from your doctor! You can now move forward with confidence, knowing that you are cancer-free. While this is the case for most people, it’s important to note that some men with prostate cancer may develop a second cancer unrelated to the first.
It’s important to know that individuals with cancer can be at risk of developing a second cancer. This happens when a new primary cancer may develop for someone who had a prior cancer before developing a second cancer. This can happen within a few months to years after the initial cancer treatment. Certain cancer treatments, like radiation and chemotherapy (which are sometimes used for prostate cancer), may increase the chances of developing another cancer in the future.
It’s important to note that a study by Stanford Medicine found that the rate of men who developed a second cancer after radiation treatment for prostate cancer was only 0.5% higher than those who did not receive radiation. This is a relatively low risk, so patients should not be discouraged from choosing radiation as a treatment option due to this concern. However, it’s always a good idea to ask your surgeon and radiation oncologist questions about your concerns and to explore other treatment options if possible.
Prostate cancer (like all cancers) can lead to any type of cancer but men who’ve had the disease are at a higher risk for certain types of cancer.
Certain circumstances can increase the risk for some men to develop a second cancer, which include:
Second cancers can occur anywhere in a man’s body but these are the most common secondary cancers men who’ve had prostate cancer may develop:
Bladder cancer typically originates from the cells that line the bladder wall and is often signaled by the presence of blood in the urine. However, bloody urine can also be caused by kidney stones or a bladder infection. Men who have undergone radiation treatment for prostate cancer should be vigilant for any signs of bladder problems, as the bladder is situated near the prostate gland and thus vulnerable to radiation damage.
How to lower your risk for bladder cancer:
Polyps are small growths that typically initiate rectal cancer, usually within the last six inches of the colon. Men treated with radiation for prostate cancer may have a higher risk of developing rectal cancer, particularly if they received external beam radiation, intensity-modulated radiation, or brachytherapy radiation.
Signs of rectal cancer include bloating, cramping, unexplained weight loss, and a change in bowel habits.
How to lower your risk for rectal cancer
The small intestine is about 20 feet in length and cancer can occur in any part of this organ. Often, the cancer begins as a small growth or polyp and symptoms may include belly pain after eating, nausea and vomiting, bloody stools, and unexplained weight loss.
How to lower your risk for small intestine cancer
Radiation commonly can cause skin damage such as blistering, redness, and bleeding. Sometimes, many years later, the damaged skin may result in melanoma.
How to lower your risk for melanoma
Small glands such as the thyroid and thymus play a significant role in your health but are also susceptible to developing a tumor, especially in anyone who’s had radiation. The butterfly-shaped thyroid located at the base of the neck, helps regular your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight. The thymus, situated between the lungs, helps to make white blood cells that fight off infections.
Symptoms of a tumor in the thyroid may include hoarseness, trouble swallowing, or pain located in the neck or throat. Symptoms of a tumor in the thymus may include a cough, trouble swallowing, chest pain, and unexplained weight loss.
How to lower your risk for an endocrine cancer
If you’ve survived cancer, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about the risk of a second cancer and how to lower it.
Living life to the fullest is important; taking care of your physical and mental health is the best way to achieve this goal without fear.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.