A new study conducted by UK-based Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) has revealed that Hodgkin lymphoma survivors are at high risk of developing a second type of cancer, especially if they have a family history of the disease.
According to the report, patients successfully treated with Hodgkin lymphoma are 2.4 times more likely to be affected by a second cancer of any type when compared with people of the same age and sex in the general population.
The risk of developing a second cancer type remains high even 30 years after the patient is treated for Hodgkin lymphoma, and higher in those with a family history of the specific cancers.
The new findings can help doctors identify patients who are at high risk of second cancers and might benefit from increased monitoring for signs of specific second cancers, or new risk-adapted treatment strategies that are currently being assessed through clinical trials.
ICR molecular and population genetics professor Richard Houlston said: “As cure rates for cancer improve, we are increasingly thinking about the long-term health of survivors, and how we can personalise the care they receive to take into account their own individual risks.
“This major new study has tracked the health of people who have survived Hodgkin lymphoma over several decades in order to provide a comprehensive assessment of the long-term risk of cancer.
“The research gives us invaluable information which we can look to use to tailor monitoring, screening or preventative treatment.”
Conducted in collaboration with researchers from Sweden and Germany, the new ICR study has analysed data from 9,522 patients affected with Hodgkin lymphoma and 28,277 of the patients' relatives.
The Hodgkin lymphoma patients with a family history of cancer are 2.8 times more likely to acquire a second cancer type compared with 2.2 times more likely in patients with no first-degree relatives with cancer.
Moreover, patients with two or more first-degree relatives with cancer are 3.4 times more likely to be affected by a second cancer type.
According to the study, an increased risk of second cancer was linked to the age at diagnosis for both men and women.
Image: A micrograph of Hodgkin lymphoma. Photo: courtesy of Nephron CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.