24 October 2019

How women with more aggressive breast cancer could face higher risk of other cancers

Investigators found that women with 'interval breast cancer' were more likely to be previously or later diagnosed with another type of cancer, such as lung, colon and skin cancer.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer between two routine screenings have an increased risk for other types of cancer, a new study finds.

Breast cancer detected between two routine screenings is called interval cancer, and it tends to be more advanced, more aggressive and to have a worse prognosis than cancers found during screenings.

A family history of multiple cancers

For the study, researchers analysed data from nearly 15 000 breast cancer patients who participated in one of three earlier studies (two in Sweden and one in the United States). Of those patients, 1 772 had interval breast cancer.

Women with interval breast cancer were more likely to be previously or later diagnosed with another type of cancer, such as lung, colon and skin cancer, the investigators found.

Compared to those without interval breast cancer, patients with interval breast cancer who also had another type of cancer were three times more likely to have a family history of multiple cancers. This suggests that rare genetic mutations may play a role in their cancers, according to Felix Grassmann, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues.

Their report was published online in the journal Nature Communications.

The findings may be useful in updating cancer prevention programmes, the researchers suggested in a journal news release.

That could include providing additional screenings for certain people and increasing awareness among interval breast cancer survivors and their relatives.

The study authors also said that further research is needed to pinpoint rare genetic mutations that may be associated with interval breast cancer and other cancers.

Image credit: iStock


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