Surviving Lymphoma: Secondary Cancers

Secondary cancers are cancers that develop as a result of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. These cancers are usually unrelated to the first disease a patient suffered from. Rather, they are a long-term side effect of the treatment used to combat the original cancer.

These side-effects can occur months or years after a patient enters remission. The use of strong chemotherapy agents like etoposide, high doses of radiation, or combination chemo and radiation therapy all increase a patient's risk of developing a secondary cancer.

Due to this possibility, cancer survivors are monitored closely by their doctors. That way, if a secondary cancer does arise, it will be caught early when it is treatable.

Hodgkin's Lymphoma

For Hodkgin's Lymphoma, the most common secondary cancers are:

  • Stomach cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Bone cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

The chance for developing a secondary cancer after 20 years of remission is 10%. This risk increases to 26% after 30 years. Patients who were younger than 21 years of age during their treatment have a higher incidence of secondary cancers, and that risk increases if both chemotherapy and radiation were used.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL)

The most common secondary cancers after treatment for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphomas are:

  • Leukemia
  • Other Non-Hodgkin's Lymphomas

The incidence rates for secondary cancers are usually lower when compared to Hodgkin's patients. However, these statistics change based on the type of NHL and the treatment used.

Additional Resource

Univ. of Florida Shands Cancer Center: "Secondary Malignancies"

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