CBS news reports on second cancer cases.

New research shows that, ‘nearly 1 in 5 new cases in the U.S. now involves someone who has had the disease before,’ according to CBS.

Often when physicians speak about second cancers, they mean a different tissue form or a different site, not a recurrence or spread of the original tumor. In one case, a woman suffered from eight different types of cancer over the last twenty years; all treated successfully.

She said, “There was a while when I was getting one cancer diagnosis after another, including breast, lung, esophageal, and the latest - a rare tumor of her eyelids. At one point I thought I had cancer in my little finger.”

Around 19 percent of cancers in the United States now are second-or-more cases, according to a recent study. In the 1970s, the rate was only 9 percent. During the last forty years, the number of first cancers rose 70 percent while the number of second cancers rose a shocking 300 percent.

CBS tried to look at the silver lining saying that, this is partly a success story- more people are surviving cancer and living long enough to get it again, because the threat of cancer rises with age.

Second time cancers can also come up from the same gene mutations or risk factors, such as smoking, that sparked the first one. Experts are saying that some of the very treatments that help people survive their first cancer, such as radiation, can increase the threat of a new cancer forming later in life, although treatments have greatly improved in recent years to reduce this issue.

Julia Rowland, director of the federal Office of Cancer Survivorship, commented on second cancers. I think it's a lot tougher. The first time you're diagnosed, it's fear of the unknown. When you have your next diagnosis, it's fear of the known, and having to face treatment all over again.

The woman with multiple cancers said that exercising has helped her feel well through treatments, and that having endured many tragedies among her friends and family has given her a sense of resilience. She said that some people could grieve and deal with it when faced with challenges like cancer.

How difficult is it to beat second cancers?

Medically speaking, second cancers give special challenges. Treatment choices for the illness might be more limited. “For example, radiation usually isn't given to the same area of the body more than once. Some drugs also have lifetime dose limits to avoid nerve or heart damage,” according to CBS.

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Gerry Oginski
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