Cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often their greatest concern is facing breast 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 thyroid 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:
- Breast cancer (in women)
- Prostate cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Adrenal cancer
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 for thyroid cancer
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 breast cancer.
All patients should be encouraged to avoid tobacco smoke, as smoking increases the risk of many thyroid cancers.
To help maintain good health, survivors should also:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Adopt a physically active lifestyle
- Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods
- Limit consumption of alcohol to 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 cancers.source