(BETHESDA, Md.) -- What is your risk of getting a second cancer after receiving radiation for the first cancer? Not very high.
Researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute report that the proportion of second cancers related to radiotherapy treatment for first cancer in adulthood is small.
The authors followed over 600,000 cancer patients for up to 12 years from 1973-2002.
They found that nine percent developed a second solid tumor. Of these second cancers, only eight percent could be related to radiotherapy treatment for first cancer. The authors conclude that most of the other second cancers are due to other factors like lifestyles and genetics.
Lead researcher Amy Berrington de Gonzalez noted the study's usefulness to physicians.
"The findings can be used by physicians to really put the risks into perspective when they are talking treatment options with their patients," she said.
Gonzalez, who is an investigator for the NCI's radiation epidemiology branch, added that generally, the risks of radiotherapy are smaller than the benefits.
The study will be featured online March 30 in The Lancet Oncology.
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