Breast cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often a major concern is facing cancer again. Cancer that comes back after treatment is called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a second cancer.
Men who have had breast cancer can get any type of second cancer, but they have a higher increased risk for certain types of cancer, including:
For some second cancers, shared genetic risk factors may play a role. For example, men with mutations in the BRCA2 gene have an increased risk of prostate and pancreas cancer as well as breast cancer. All men with breast cancer meet guidelines for genetic testing and should discuss this with their doctor or see a genetic counselor.
After completing treatment for breast cancer, you should still see your doctor regularly to look for signs the cancer has come back or spread. Experts do not recommend any specific tests 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 breast cancer should follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer and stay away from tobacco products. Smoking increases the risk of many cancers.
To help maintain good health, survivors should also:
These steps may also lower the risk of some cancers.
See Second Cancers in Adults for more information about causes of second cancers.
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.
Curtis RE, Ron E, Hankey BF, Hoover RN. New Malignancies Following Breast Cancer. In: Curtis RE, Freedman DM, Ron E, Ries LAG, Hacker DG, Edwards BK, Tucker MA, Fraumeni JF Jr. (eds). New Malignancies Among Cancer Survivors: SEER Cancer Registries, 1973-2000. National Cancer Institute. NIH Publ. No. 05-5302. Bethesda, MD, 2006. Accessed on 01/18/2018 at http://seer.cancer.gov/archive/publications/mpmono/MPMonograph_complete.pdf.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Genetic/Familial High-Risk Assessment: Breast and Ovarian. Version 1.2018. Accessed at www.nccn.org on April 8, 2018.
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 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21591 on June 9, 2020.
Last Revised: June 9, 2020