Major NCI study finds increased risk of cancer in long-term Hodgkins survivors

An international study of more than 32,000 Hodgkin's disease patients has shown that long-term survivors of the disease have double the normal risk of developing a subsequent cancer later in life. Researchers led by the National Cancer Institute measured the risk of these "second cancers" among Hodgkin's disease survivors using data from cancer registries in the U.S., Canada, and four Nordic countries. The research tracked cancer incidence and had among the longest follow-up periods of any study to date. Of the study population, 1,111 patients were followed for 25 years or longer.

The study found that the relative risk for developing a second cancer--compared to that of the general population--was significantly elevated in every age group of Hodgkin's disease survivors studied. Overall, survivors were twice as likely to develop a solid tumor, compared to the general population. This cancer risk remained significantly elevated for 25 years or more.

The researchers also found that the relative risk of solid tumors appeared to begin to decline 25 years after diagnosis of Hodgkin's disease. Previous studies had indicated that the risk of second cancers persisted for at least 20 years. However, the researchers cautioned that further study is needed to more precisely estimate risk after 25 years, given the comparatively small number of patients followed for this length of time.

"The long-term decline in relative risk for many solid tumors 25 years or more after Hodgkin's disease diagnosis was a notable finding," said Graa M. Dores, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute, lead author of the study. "However, risks remained elevated compared to the general population, and further study is needed to confirm these results. Patients and their physicians need to remain aware of the persistent long-term risk of second cancers after treatment for Hodgkin's disease."

This study and earlier research has suggested a link between certain Hodgki

Contact: Stacia Momburg
American Society of Clinical Oncology

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