It is estimated that there are currently more than one million Canadians who have survived cancer, a number that will increase dramatically over the next several years as treatment continues to improve and the age of the population. In addition to the physical and psychological consequences that result from treatment, cancer survivors in many cases have a high risk of recurrence, especially for some types of cancer that are very difficult to treat (eg, lungs, stomach. Or esophagus).
However, studies show that in many cases it is possible that the risk of these relapses can be reduced by adopting good lifestyle habits, especially the absence of tobacco, a diet rich in plants, maintenance of normal body weight And regular physical activity.
Another risk that cancer survivors face, little known, is to develop another primary cancer, which affects another organ in the body. Away from recurrences of the first cancer, these second cancers may be due to a genetic predisposition of an individual to develop cancer, used to treat the first cancers (mutations of cancers caused by chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy). Remedies may result in a. ) Or even the same poor lifestyle habits that may have previously been responsible for cancer (smoking, obesity, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity) (1).
Of all these possibilities, according to a recent study, it is the lifestyle component that plays the most important role in the development of each other’s cancer (2).
Analyzing data collected from 1.5 million adult cancer survivors between 1992 and 2017, the researchers noted that, compared to the general population, adult cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing other cancers. Primary (11% in males and 10% in females). And a higher risk of dying after diagnosis (45% in men and 33% in women).
These risks of developing a second primary cancer were higher for 18 of the 30 most common primary cancers in men and 21 of the 31 most common primary cancers in women.
Smoking and obesity
It is noteworthy that most of these risks stem from lifestyle risk factors common to first and second primary cancers. For example, the second cancer risk from tobacco was higher among smoking-related first cancer survivors, and these cancers accounted for a greater proportion of the second cancers listed in the study.
Studies show that a large proportion of cancer survivors from smoking continue to smoke and therefore have a higher risk of being affected by another tobacco-related cancer. Thus, the four cancers are mainly caused by tobacco (lung, bladder, oral cavity / pharynx and esophagus), accounting for 26% of all other cancers and 45% of the associated mortality. Lung cancer alone accounts for one third of all mortality from other cancers.
The study also shows that many obesity-related cancer survivors had a higher risk of developing other cancers, which are believed to be accelerated by being overweight.
Among all early cancer survivors, four cancers commonly associated with obesity (colorectal, pancreas, uterus, and liver) account for about 35% of the total mortality from other cancers. This is in accordance with previous studies showing that among breast cancer and colorectal cancer survivors, the risk of developing another cancer associated with obesity was higher in overweight people.
Give a boost
Despite the trauma caused by the diagnosis of cancer, studies show that most people who are affected by the disease do not significantly change their habits and therefore there are many survivors who are at high risk of survival. Huh. Either by recurrence of their cancer or by the presence of other isolated cancers.
For example, in the United States, 12% of cancer survivors are smokers, 67% are overweight, with 32% being obese, and 34% not participating in regular physical activity.
So the ability to prevent these other cancers is immense: instead of discouraging the diagnosis of cancer by thinking that it is too late and there is no point in changing your lifestyle, you can raise the bar and contrast the basic form Can change their habits. To improve the chances of survival. Eating in abundance of plants, being physically active and maintaining normal body weight are all daily actions that can reduce the risk of recurrence and greatly improve healthy life expectancy.
- (1) Travis LB et al. Etiology, genetics and prevention of secondary neoplasm in adult cancer survivors. Nut. Rev. Clean. Oncol. 2013; 10: 289–301.
- (2) Sung He et Takrakaana. Association of first primary cancer with later primary cancer risk in adult-onset cancer survivors in the United States. JAMA 2020; 324: 2521–2535.