Can I Get Another Cancer After Having Thyroid 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 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.

Survivors of thyroid cancer can get any type of second cancer, but they have an increased risk of:

Adrenal cancer risk is especially high in people who had the medullary type of thyroid cancer.

Patients treated with radioactive iodine also have an increased risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), stomach cancer, and salivary gland cancer.

After treatment

After completing treatment for thyroid cancer, you should see your doctor regularly. You may also have 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.

Patients who have completed treatment should follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer.

All patients should be encouraged to avoid tobacco smoke, as 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.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: March 31, 2016 Last Revised: April 15, 2016

American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.