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Second Cancers After Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic 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.

Unfortunately, being treated for pancreatic cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another cancer. People who have had pancreatic cancer can still get the same types of cancers that other people get. In fact, they might be at higher risk for certain types of cancer.

There aren’t many studies looking at second cancers among pancreatic cancer survivors, mainly because of the poor outcomes related to pancreatic cancer. The little information that is known shows that there is an increased risk of:

For people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer younger than 50 years of age, there appears to be an increased risk of lung cancer. This is believed to be related to smoking.

Exactly how high the risk is of these second cancers is not known at this time.

Follow-up after pancreatic cancer treatment

After completing treatment, you should still see your doctor regularly. Report any new symptoms or problems, because they could be caused by the cancer spreading or coming back, or by a new disease or second cancer.

Pancreatic cancer survivors should also follow the American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer, such as those for colorectal, breast, cervical, and prostate cancer. Screening tests can find some cancers early when they are likely to be treated more successfully. For people who have had pancreatic cancer, most experts don’t recommend any additional testing to look for second cancers unless you have symptoms or if you or your family have an inherited genetic syndrome.

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, people who have had pancreatic cancer should do their best to stay away from tobacco products. Not smoking lowers the chance of developing most lung cancers and may help decrease the possibility of a new pancreatic cancer from forming.

To help maintain good health, pancreatic cancer survivors should also:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Keep physically active.
  • Follow a healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and highly processed foods
  • It’s best not to drink alcohol. If you do drink, have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men.

These steps may also lower the risk of some other health problems.

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.

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.

Harms of Cigarette Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting was originally published by the National Cancer Institute. NCI website. Reviewed December 19, 2017. Accessed Feb 5, 2024.

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
on Feb 5, 2024.

Last Revised: February 5, 2024

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