Radiation therapy more likely to cause second primary cancer in prostate cancer patients

Prostate cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy are more likely to be diagnosed with a second primary cancer compared to their peers who opt for other treatments.

That’s according to a new analysis of the outcomes of more than 140,000 men with prostate cancer. The results revealed that although the percentage of men who went on to develop secondar primary cancers in the years following their treatment, the difference between patients who completed radiation therapy and those who did not were still statistically significant.

Corresponding author on the new study Hilary P. Bagshaw, MD, of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Stanford Universityand colleagues shared the details of their research recently in JAMA Network Open.

Regarding the treatment options available to patients, the authors stressed the importance of informed decision making:

Patients need to feel confident in understanding how the risks and benefits pertain to them. Given that all treatment options are associated with excellent prostate cancer–specific mortality rates, discussion of the potential adverse effects of surgical procedures and radiotherapy is especially important to help patients select treatment that best suits their goals.”

Opportunity for Shared Decision-Making 

Out of the 143,886 patients included in the study, 4,257 went on to receive a second primary cancer diagnosis between one and five years after their initial treatment. This was observed in 3.7% of the patients who underwent radiation therapy for their prostate cancer. In comparison, 2.5% of the nonradiotherapy group went on to develop a second primary cancer.

“Although the incidence and risk of developing a second primary cancer were low, it is important to discuss the risk with patients during shared decision-making about prostate cancer treatment options,” the authors suggested.

The authors went on to state that their results should not deter providers from offering their patients radiotherapy treatment, but rather encourage in-depth discussions and shared decisions pertaining to the best options.

The study if available in full here.

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