Can I Get Another Cancer After Having Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia?
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 is called a “recurrence.” But some cancer survivors may develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a “second cancer.” No matter what type of cancer you have had, it is still possible to get another (new) cancer, even after surviving the first.
Unfortunately, being treated for cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another cancer. 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.
People with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) can get any type of second cancer, but they have an increased risk of:
- Salivary gland cancer
- Cancer of the lip
- Cancers of the nose and nasal cavity
- Cancer of the larynx
- Lung cancer
- Colon cancer
- Hodgkin lymphoma
- Kaposi sarcoma
- Melanoma of the skin
- Kidney cancer
Women with CLL also have an increased risk of rectal cancer.
People with CLL need to see their doctors regularly. They can have CLL for a long time without needing treatment. Let your doctor know if you have any new symptoms or problems. These may be from the CLL and mean that treatment is needed, or they may be from some other cancer or disease. Treatment doesn’t cure this cancer, but can cause it to regress or go away for a time. Then, if the leukemia comes back or worsens, treatment may begin again.
All people with CLL should avoid tobacco smoke, as smoking increases the risk of many cancers and might further increase the risk of some of the second cancers seen in patients with CLL.
To help maintain good health, survivors should also:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Adopt a physically active lifestyle
- Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods
- Limit consumption of alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men
These steps may also lower the risk of some cancers.
See Second Cancers in Adults for more information about causes of second cancers.
Last Medical Review: January 6, 2015 Last Revised: April 11, 2016
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- Lifestyle Changes During and After Treatment for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
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- If Treatment for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Stops Working