Surviving breast or thyroid cancer and beating the odds is reason to celebrate. Doing so and learning that the other form of cancer has now developed, however, can be a particularly hard pill to swallow. Researchers are finding that this is very much the case for some survivors of these two types of cancer.
Researchers recently performed an analysis of data related to survivors of breast and thyroid cancer. The numbers show there was a link between incidence of breast cancer as a secondary malignancy after thyroid cancer diagnosis and vice versa. Although more research is necessary to better understand the potential increased risk, researchers believe a number of factors may contribute. Obesity, radiation exposure, genetic susceptibility and hormonal risks are all believed to play a possible role in the connection between the two cancers.
The findings of the study do require more follow-up to ensure a stronger understanding of the connection. In addition, a more in-depth look at the reason for the elevated risks is likely in order. Even so, the discovery of the connection could very well give survivors and their doctors the ability to get out in front of a second malignancy before it occurs.
People who are diagnosed with either form of cancer are urged to talk with their healthcare providers about all recommended treatments and their risks. They should also discuss their risks for second cancer formation. At the very least, enhanced monitoring after diagnosis with one of the two diseases for the other is likely in order. It is important to note that not all people who develop breast cancer will also develop thyroid cancer down the road and vice versa. Even so, the link does signal the need to be mindful of the possibility and diligent in follow-ups with healthcare providers.