Second Cancers After Bone Cancer

Cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often their greatest concern is facing cancer again. If a cancer comes back after treatment it's called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a second cancer.

Being treated for cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another cancer, even after surviving the first one. People who have had cancer can still get the same types of cancers that other people get. In fact, certain types of cancer and cancer treatments can be linked to a higher risk of certain second cancers.

Survivors of bone and joint cancers can get any type of second cancer, but they have an increased risk of getting another bone or joint cancer (this is different from the first cancer coming back). Sometimes this is the same kind of cancer as the original tumor, but it can be a different type. For example, someone who had a chondrosarcoma can get an osteosarcoma. Sarcoma of the soft tissues is also seen more often than expected after a cancer or the bone or joints.

Survivors of bone and joint cancers also have an increased risk of:

The risk of leukemia is linked to treatment with chemotherapy.

Follow-up after treatment

After treatment for bone cancer, you should see your doctor regularly. You will need tests to look for signs that the cancer has come back or spread. Experts do not recommend any additional testing to look for second cancers in patients without symptoms. Let your doctor know about any new symptoms or problems, because they could be caused by the cancer coming back or by a new disease or second cancer.

Survivors of bone cancer should follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer.

The Children’s Oncology Group has guidelines for the follow-up of patients treated for cancer as a child, teen, or young adult, including screening for second cancers. These can be found at

All cancer survivors should stay away from tobacco products. Smoking increases the risk of many cancers and might further increase the risk of some of the second cancers seen after bone cancer.

To help maintain good health, survivors should also:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight
  • Keep physically active and limit the time you spend sitting or lying down
  • Follow a healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limits or avoids red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and highly processed foods
  • It's best not to drink alcohol. If you do drink, have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men

These steps may also help lower the risk of some cancers.

See Second Cancers in Adults for more information about the causes of second cancers.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Rock CL, Thomson C, Gansler T, et al. American Cancer Society guideline for diet and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2020;70(4). doi:10.3322/caac.21591. Accessed at on June 9, 2020.

Last Revised: June 9, 2020