Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women worldwide. Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. What do these two cancers have in common, you might wonder? On a cellular and genetic level, several cancers share more in common than you might think. But with the case of breast cancer and melanoma, there have been several studies that show a link between the two.
One of the most common concerns of a breast cancer survivor following successful treatment is recurrence. Breast cancer survivors can be subject to a myriad of different medical concerns following their diagnosis, but the threat of additional cancer remains a looming one for many. A second breast cancer is the most common second cancer for survivors. This includes cancer in the same breast for those who opted for a breast-conserving lumpectomy, as well as the development of cancer in the breast opposite the one originally diagnosed. However, breast cancer survivors are also at an increased risk for several other cancers, including melanoma, colon cancer, sarcomas, thyroid cancer, and others.
Some of these cancers can be linked to radiation treatment, including lung cancer. Several studies have shown a longitudinal link between radiation therapy for breast cancer and an increased predisposition to lung cancer. However, it is important to note that, for many, radiation therapy helped to increase life expectancy as well. Understanding the potential costs and benefits of different treatment options can be complex. It is important, as always, to speak with your doctor(s) about the available options in order to understand the dynamics involved. Weighing the options is an important decision, and it should be an informed one.