"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Prostate cancer: Radiation therapy increases the chance of future cancers.

A regular treatment for localized prostate cancer — that's, cancer that's confined to the prostate gland — is to kill or shrink the tumor with radiation. Long-term results are excellent for many men. But like other cancer treatments, radiation carries a specific amount of risk, including the chance that it could possibly cause secondary cancers to develop later within the body.

Secondary cancers are defined by whether or not they meet certain criteria:

  • They are different from the cancer that the patient was initially treated for.
  • They are present in the irradiated area.
  • They weren't present before the radiation treatment began.
  • They appear at the very least 4 years after treatment is accomplished.

Historical evidence suggests that secondary cancers are rare. Now, a big study of men treated with current radiation delivery methods utilized in modern times updates this conclusion.

Study the info and results.

The investigators reviewed data from 143,886 men who were treated for localized prostate cancer at Veterans Affairs medical facilities between 2000 and 2015. Of these, 52,886 were treated with radiation inside a 12 months of diagnosis. Another 91,000 men either opted for surgery in the course of the same timeframe, or selected to have their cancer monitored and treated provided that — or if — routine exams showed signs of progression.

After a median follow-up of nine years, 3% of men treated with radiation had developed a secondary cancer, compared with 2.5% of men who selected other options. The 4 commonest cancers – so as of how often they were detected – were bladder cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and rectal cancer. The risk of developing these secondary cancers increased steadily over time, five to 6 years after radiation treatment was accomplished.

Dr. Oliver Sartor, an oncologist at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans who was not involved within the study, says the potential for secondary cancer is a crucial issue men should consult with their doctors when evaluating treatment options. .

Weight risk

Unfortunately, doctors have only a limited ability to predict which men treated with radiation are at the very best risk of secondary cancers. Smoking is a serious risk factor for bladder cancer, so men who smoke while undergoing radiation have another excuse to quit, says Dr. Sartor. Men with hereditary risks of Lynch syndrome (a variety of colorectal cancer) also face increased risks from radiation. These men have gene changes that make it harder for his or her cells to repair DNA damage.

Dr. Garnick says he's reluctant to contemplate radiation for men with a history of inflammatory bowel diseases akin to ulcerative colitis, who're also at increased risk of developing stomach cancer. They also advise older men who've been treated with radiation for prostate cancer to seek the advice of their doctors before stopping routine colorectal screening.