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Although rare, the very treatment that saves a child’s life may cause a second cancer to develop later.
Everyone has some risk of developing cancer later in life. Several studies have shown that as childhood cancer survivors become older they have a slightly higher risk of developing a second cancer than the general public. Certain types of treatment for childhood cancer or a family history of cancer can increase the risk.
Some survivors who were treated with chemotherapy may develop acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML most commonly appears during the first 10 years after the completion of cancer treatment. The risk of developing a secondary leukemia is increased for people who were treated with:
Radiation therapy, especially at a young age and at high dose, increases the risk of developing a cancer of soft tissues or bone cancer later in life. The most common sites include the skin, breast, central nervous system, thyroid gland, and bones.
These second cancers most commonly appear more than 10 years after treatment for the original cancer.
Reviewed: June 2018