Second Cancers After Thyroid Cancer

Survivors of thyroid cancer can be affected by a number of health problems, but often their greatest concern is facing another cancer. Cancer that 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 cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another. People who have had thyroid cancer can still get the same types of cancers that other people get. In fact, they might be as risk for certain types of cancer.

People who have or had thyroid cancer can get any type of second cancer, but they have an increased risk of developing:

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.

What can you do?

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 thyroid cancer coming back or by a new disease or second cancer.

Patients who have completed treatment should keep up with early detection (screening) tests for other types 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 oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Ronckers CM, McCarron P, Engels EA, Ron E. New Malignancies Following Cancer of the Thyroid and Other Endocrine Glands. 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 February 21, 2019 at http://seer.cancer.gov/archive/publications/mpmono/MPMonograph_complete.pdf.

Last Medical Review: March 14, 2019 Last Revised: March 14, 2019

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