People successfully treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) are more likely to develop a second cancer if they have a close relative with that type of cancer. The most common second cancers were non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia, followed by lung, breast, bowel, and non-melanoma skin cancers.
The study, “Risk of Second Cancer in Hodgkin Lymphoma Survivors and Influence of Family History,” was published in Journal of Clinical Oncology, and funded by Cancer Research UK, the German Cancer Aid, and the Swedish Research Council.
“To our knowledge, this is the first population study to demonstrate site-specific second cancer risk after HL being influenced by family history,” the researchers wrote. “Our findings further substantiate the significant cancer risks associated with survivorship from HL.”
The study included 9,522 HL patients and 28,277 relatives. First, the researchers calculated the risk (comparing how often HL survivors had second cancers of any type to the general population) and found that it was 2.4 times higher. The risk was still high 30 years after being treated.
“The vast majority of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma are cured with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Our research has shown that these patients are at substantially increased risk of a second cancer later in life — and particularly if they have a family history of cancer,” Dr. Amit Sud, a clinical research fellow at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said in a news release.
Age at diagnosis influenced the risk of developing second cancers, with younger HL survivors (diagnosed before age 35) at increased risk compared to older survivors.
A family history of cancer, defined as a first-degree relative with cancer, also increased the risk of second cancers in Hodgkin lymphoma survivors. For patients with one or two or more affected family members, the risk of second cancer increased by 2.7 and 3.4 fold.
“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,” Sud said. “After patients are cured, they no longer encounter oncologists, so it’s important that other healthcare providers are aware of the increased risk.”