Can a person develop two cancers at the same time?

Can a person develop two cancers at the same time?

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answers (2)

Answer 1
August, 2021

Hello Makar!

Yes, it can. In this case, they speak of primary multiple tumors. In this case, both various organs (for example, intestines and pancreas) and paired organs (kidneys, mammary glands) can be affected.

If two or more types of cancer are diagnosed in a patient with an interval of no more than 6- months, such tumors are called synchronous and most often have a related cause. If tumors are diagnosed at intervals of more than 6 months from each other, they are called metachronous.

Regarding the causes of their occurrence, it is worth noting that there are various hereditary syndromes:

● Li-Fraumeni

● Peitz-Jeghers

● Turko

● Familial adenomatous polyposis, etc.

For example , with Peitz-Jegers syndrome, several types of cancer can develop at once, mainly in the gastrointestinal tract (cancer of the pancreas, stomach, small and large intestines), as well as in other organs.

In addition, it is worth noting Lynch syndrome, in which the risk of developing colorectal cancer in a person reaches 70-80%, and the risk of endometrial cancer is 40%. And in the presence of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, they indicate a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Another aspect is that many cancers have related risk factors. There is a wide range of carcinogens - substances that stimulate the oncological processes. These are chemical (industrial compounds) and physical (radiation) and biological (viruses) factors. For example, smoking increases the risk of developing many cancers, not just lung cancer.

However, it is possible that two or more types of cancer in one person may occur without a hereditary predisposition or related risk factors as unrelated diseases. In this case, they speak of a sporadic disease.

It is important to remember that many types of malignant tumors have the ability to metastasize. In this case, for example, with metastasis of lung cancer in the bone, despite the presence of several tumor foci, it will not be two separate types of cancer, but lung cancer with metastases.

In any case, a detailed diagnosis with the definition specific biomarkers and taking a biopsy of the tumor. If one of the hereditary syndromes is suspected, genetic testing is done.

Regarding treatment, surgery and radiation therapy are often performed for each tumor separately, and some types of drug treatment can be effective for both types of cancer.

Answer 2
August, 2021

Yes, and this happens very often. This is called multiple primary tumor. They can be synchronous (if the diagnosis is established with a difference of less than 6 months) or metachronous (if the difference in diagnoses is more than 6 months)

As a rule, multiple primary cancer is associated with or with some powerful carcinogenic effect (large dose for example) or with heredity (for example, a mutation in the BRCA genes can lead to both bilateral breast cancer and multiple primary breast and ovarian cancer).

Sometimes, when it comes to paired organs, for example about the mammary gland, a certain difficulty is to prove precisely multiple primary cancer, because the second tumor can be difficult to distinguish from the metastasis of the first.

By the way, there was an interesting story about a laboratory assistant in a physical laboratory who decided to resort to an unusual method of suicide from unhappy love - intravenously injected himself with a large dose of a radioactive substance. Suicide did work out, but not the way he wanted - he developed 8 (if I'm not mistaken) different cancers during the year, from which he died.

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