Many people are unaware of the difference between primary and secondary cancer. Primary cancer is the original site (organ or tissue) where cancer first began. Secondary cancer is defined in a few ways: a new primary cancer in another area of the body or as the spread of the original primary cancer to another region of the body. Let’s learn about these conditions in greater detail.
Primary cancer refers to the initial cancer a person experiences. This can be lung cancer, breast cancer, or any other type of cancer. It’s possible to have more than one primary cancer. Sometimes, these primary cancers are found at the same time, and other times they occur decades apart. This isn’t surprising, since there are a number of hereditary conditions that can increase the risk of cancer in more than one organ or tissue type.
Second Primary vs Secondary Cancer
The terms secondary and second cancer are often used interchangeably but can mean different things. The term secondary cancer might refer to metastasis from primary cancer or a second cancer that’s unrelated to the original cancer. When the term second cancer is used, it refers to a second primary cancer. In other words, a different type of cancer than the first cancer, arising in a new/different organ or tissue.
Second Primary Cancers
Second primary cancers are unrelated to primary cancer, in that each of these cancers occurs from mutations that take place within different cells. Second primary cancers are more common in people who’ve had primary cancer for several reasons including-
-Similar risk factors: Some risk factors increase the risk of several types of cancer.
These include smoking, excess alcohol consumption, a bad diet, and so on.
-Hereditary predisposition: People inherit a predisposition to cancer that may raise the risk of developing several different types of cancer.
-Treatment-related cancers: Treatments for cancer like chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy may increase the risk of developing another cancer down the line.