Secondary cancers from radiation therapy

Portal Forums Radiation Oncology Chest Radiation Secondary cancers from radiation therapy

This topic contains 10 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by catdander forum moderator catdander forum moderator 1 year, 4 months ago.

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June 27, 2016 at 9:39 pm  #1274509    

mamiewaites

I’ve been reading about the possible long-term after effects of radiation, there is a lot of information out there, a lot of it conflicting. I read an article on this web-site that stated, “With regard to lung cancer, data from the United States and Sweden indicates that patients treated before the mid 1980’s were noted to have approximately a 0.5% increase in the risk of developing lung cancer – almost all secondary lung cancers appear to be in smokers. However, among patients treated in the last 30 years, this increased risk of lung cancer has disappeared.” In your area of expertise, would you say that you agree with this statement? This is the only time I have seen this reported anywhere.The article was called Secondary Malignancies after Radiation Therapy, I believe, by Dr. Loiselle.
If a woman’s skin is ‘puckered’ after her rounds of radiation, does that necessarily mean that she received too much radiation to that area?

June 28, 2016 at 7:22 am  #1274511    
JimC Forum Moderator
JimC Forum Moderator

Hi mamiewaites,

Welcome to GRACE. That statement by Dr. Loiselle reflects the fact that radiation techniques (and the scanning procedures used to plan radiation treatments) have improved greatly since the 1980s, as it has become more focused, resulting in less damage to healthy tissue.

On the other hand, some damage does occur, including toxicity to the sensitive outer layers of skin, which is why hair loss and skin burns remain side effects commonly seen.

JimC
Forum moderator


Jul 2008 Wife Liz (51/never smoker) Dx Stage IV NSCLC EGFR exon 19
4 cycles Carbo/alimta, 65% shrinkage
Tarceva maintenance
Mar 2010 progression, added Alimta, stable
Sep 2010 multiple brain mets, WBR
Oct 2010 large pericardial effusion, tamponade
Jan 2011 progression, start abraxane
Jun 2011-New liver, brain mets, add Tarceva
Oct 2011-Dx Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis; pulsed Tarceva
At rest Nov 4 2011
Since then: http://cancergrace.org/blog/jim-and-lisa

June 28, 2016 at 1:49 pm  #1274527    

mamiewaites

Thanks Jim.
I am aware of the vast improvements of radiation treatments in the past 30 yrs. I guess what I am more curious about is her statement regarding “that this increased risk of lung cancer has disappeared.” That’s a pretty broad statement that I want to believe, but I do have a feeling might be a bit overreaching? I want to know if this is something that has been eradicated in the US? Is this a problem you only see in other countries?
Thank you for your time.

June 28, 2016 at 4:23 pm  #1274529    
catdander forum moderator
catdander forum moderator

Hi mamie,

I don’t think anyone can or would say that the possibility of a secondary cancer from radiation is eradicated for certain. Whether or not to use radiation treatment is always weighed with the likelihood of doing more harm than good. BTW most countries are using the same techniques and machinery as the US.

The more we know (which is always growing) the more we can make better decisions about when radiation is the best option to choose. But the reality with cancer is that there are no certainties.

I hope she does well, her skin burns heal and the cancer is gone for good.
Janine

June 28, 2016 at 5:01 pm  #1274531    

cards7up

From what I’ve seen, many women who were treated for breast cancer using radiation, have gone on to get lung cancer. But everyone is different. Do you have a specific radiation question about yourself? I’ve had targeted radiation to my lung and don’t feel it’s put me at any more risk than anything else. Like the air we breath! Take care, Judy


Stage IIIA adeno, dx 7/2010. SRS then chemo carbo/alimta 4x. NED as of 10/2011.
Local recurrence, surgery to remove LRL 8/29/13. 5.2cm involved pleura. Chemo carbo/alimta x3. NED

June 28, 2016 at 6:30 pm  #1274532    

mamiewaites

Hi Judy,
No it’s not about me it’s about my mother who had radiation in 1998. Are you a health care provider? Not meaning that in a sardonic way at all, sincerely curious. I ask because out of everything that I’ve read and researched, I’ve found that lung cancer from breast cancer radiation treatment is a relatively rare occurrence these days.
For some reason a doctor Loiselle went as far to say that “After radiation therapy for breast cancer, the risk of sarcoma, lung cancer, and other breast cancers have been described in the medical literature. From France, we have reports on thousands of women treated with radiation therapy for breast cancer over the last few decades. The French have reported a risk of developing sarcoma in the range from 0.28% to 0.48%. With regard to lung cancer, data from the United States and Sweden indicates that patients treated before the mid 1980’s were noted to have approximately a 0.5% increase in the risk of developing lung cancer – almost all secondary lung cancers appear to be in smokers. However, among patients treated in the last 30 years, this increased risk of lung cancer has disappeared. With regard to whether women are at increased risk for secondary breast cancers, data is too conflicting to draw firm conclusions. It appears that with older techniques, younger women may have been at a slightly elevated risk of developing a second breast cancer.”
Here is the link from this (cancer grace) site: http://cancergrace.org/radiation/2011/05/09/secondary-malignancies/
I’m feeling a sense of frustration reading something that has been published, on this site, but nobody seems to be able to corroborate her findings.
Again, not trying to be difficult, just more confused than before:( Why would her findings be published and reported if they weren’t legitimate?

June 29, 2016 at 1:01 am  #1274535    
catdander forum moderator
catdander forum moderator

Just a friendly FYI, at Grace unless the person’s tagline and avatar say they are a doctor then we’re laypeople. Judy usually states clearly that she’s not a med pro in her posts (and I wondered why :) ). If I may Judy speak for/of you… Judy has seen and knows people who have had breast then lung cancer. But then Judy knows a lot of people with lung cancer, she’s had it twice since I’ve known her. Judy keeps tabs on people through social media and at home and has helped countless people in their journeys with cancer. So when I read Judy’s reply I read about an individual’s experience which is much different than the data that’s discussed in the article you linked.

What a wonderful teaching moment :) Really this is important… to know the difference between an observation by one person or a small number of people (Judy’s anecdotal info) AND data collected with controls and standards carefully in place (like a research trial) to answer specific questions. The latter is closer to what Dr. Loiselle has described. He didn’t add resources though I’m sure you can find the needed references on pubmed.

The point is I think you’re mistaking anecdotal info for hard evidence. Cancer is known as the Emperor of All Maladies for a reason. We don’t understand so much about it so when a faculty like Dr. Loiselle describe (probably free of charge) the relationship between radiation and lung cancer as he did, “However, among patients treated in the last 30 years, this increased risk of lung cancer has disappeared.” This means that the numbers no longer show a significant difference between everybody else and those who have had radiation to the chest then got lung cancer. When Judy spoke about knowing people who have had both she is describing some of the many people she knows with lung cancer and yes some have had breast cancer. People who have had cancer have a higher rate of getting another primary cancer.
cont’n.

June 29, 2016 at 1:23 am  #1274536    
catdander forum moderator
catdander forum moderator

To sum things up, some people get lung cancer after being treated with radiation for breast cancer, however stats show the rate at which they get lung cancer isn’t significantly different than those who got lung cancer but didn’t have prior chest radiation.

I don’t see a discrepancy here and hope I’ve been able to explain why there isn’t. Please feel free to ask if you have more question or I’ve failed to make sense. (It may have happened before ;) )

I hope your mom is doing well and is cancer free.

All best,
Janine

Judy, Thanks for the input it is always helpful. I understand very well that social media is playing a new and important role in data capturing we just don’t have many rules of catching it yet. So keep up the pitching. Janine

June 29, 2016 at 7:44 am  #1274540    

cards7up

As Janine has said, no I’m not a healthcare provider nor do I work in the medical field. But I’ve been dealing with LC for 7 years, six for myself and less than one for my mother who passed. If you read my profile below the post, it gives you my specifics. I’m on a group called Inspire, Lung Cancer Survivors. There several of the women who had radiation for breast cancer treatment years ago, did develop LC. But that doesn’t mean it’s due to radiation treatment. My personal feeling is that if you have one type of cancer, you may be prone to another type of cancer. Janine’s explanation sounds good to me. Not everyone that had breast radiation will can any other type of cancer. These women just happened to get LC years later. The French report,you’re looking at probably 3-5% and that’s not much. We also don’t know how many people that would be accounted from. I found this article that’s more current and has good info. Take care, Judy
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4274043/


Stage IIIA adeno, dx 7/2010. SRS then chemo carbo/alimta 4x. NED as of 10/2011.
Local recurrence, surgery to remove LRL 8/29/13. 5.2cm involved pleura. Chemo carbo/alimta x3. NED

June 29, 2016 at 11:37 am  #1274543    

mamiewaites

Yes, that helps. Thanks you ladies for all of the information. Mother had a lumpectomy in 98 with radiation, she then had a re-occurrence in 2006, when she had a double mastectomy. She’s been cancer free since! I had no clue that the radiation that she received in 98 could put her at a higher risk for lung cancer or a sarcoma. Since hearing this information I’ve been reading and studying everything I can get my hands on to gain a better understanding of this phenomena. When I read Dr. Loiselle’s report it gave me comfort, but there is a lot of conflicting information to wade through when it comes to this disease. I wanted to make sure I was understanding the content right, and from what I’m gathering I do…I understand that of course there are no guarantees (with anything, ever) but, all in all, modern techniques have made it so radiation to the chest for breast cancer doesn’t increase your chances for getting lung cancer. You’re basically on a level playing field, other than the fact that she’s had cancer itself (not the radiation treatment) that may possibly play a role.
Have I got it:)?
Thanks ladies for your time. I appreciate all the info I can get.

June 29, 2016 at 6:06 pm  #1274544    
catdander forum moderator
catdander forum moderator

Yes, I think you’ve got it. Your mom’s chances of getting lung cancer are practically the same or are the same as anyone else whose had a prior cancer.

I hope that eases your mind a bit and I hope your mom doesn’t have to deal with another cancer diagnosis. I’m glad we could help.

Janine

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