Second Cancers After Prostate Cancer
Cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often a major 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.
Unfortunately, being treated for prostate cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another cancer. Men who have had prostate cancer can still get the same types of cancers that other men get. In fact, they might be at higher risk for certain types of cancer.
Men who have had prostate cancer can get any type of second cancer, but they have an increased risk of certain cancers, including:
- Small intestine cancer
- Soft tissue cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Thymus cancer
- Melanoma of the skin
Men who are treated with radiation therapy also have a higher risk of:
This risk is probably related to the dose of radiation. Newer methods of giving radiation therapy may have different effects on the risks of a second cancer. Because these methods are newer, the long-term effects have not been studied as well.
Follow-up after prostate cancer treatment
After completing treatment for prostate cancer, you should still see your doctors regularly. Let them 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.
Prostate cancer survivors should also follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer, such as those for colorectal and lung cancer. Most experts don’t recommend any other testing to look for second cancers unless you have symptoms.
Can I lower my risk of getting a second cancer?
There are steps you can take to lower your risk and stay as healthy as possible. For example, prostate cancer survivors should do their best to stay away from all tobacco products and tobacco smoke. Smoking can increase the risk of bladder cancer after prostate radiation, as well as increase the risk of many other cancers.
To help maintain good health, prostate cancer survivors should also:
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight
- Stay physically active
- Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods
- Limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks per day
These steps may also lower the risk of some other health problems.
See Second Cancers in Adults to learn a lot more about the causes of second cancers.
Last Medical Review: February 16, 2016 Last Revised: March 11, 2016