Time of Diagnosis May Predict Risk of Secondary Cancer in Lymphoma Survivors


Survivors of long-term diffuse large B-cell lymphoma found to have a higher risk of developing a second primary cancer.

A new study by the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus examining survivors of long-term diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) has shown for the first time that the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed impacts the types of secondary cancers that may form after treatment.

More than two-thirds of patients diagnosed with DLBCL will survive; however, after treatment, patients have a small but real risk of developing a second primary cancer, according to the study. Therefore, the researchers wanted to examine survivorship and identify risk factors that can predict or mitigate the risk of developing a second primary cancer.

The researchers examined the outcomes of 26,038 patients diagnosed with DLBCL between 1973 and 2010, more than half of whom were diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 disease and a little less than half of whom were diagnosed with stage 3 or 4 disease. Overall, 13% of survivors went on to develop second primary cancers.

The study demonstrated that patients diagnosed with early-stage DLBCL had a higher risk of developing second primary cancer in the 5 years following successful treatment and that these new cancers tended to be most solid tumors when compared with late-stage cancers.

Contrastingly, patients whose DLBCL was stage 3 or 4 at the time of diagnosis had an increased risk of developing second primary cancers in the 10-15-year window after successful treatment. Instead of solid tumors, these cancers tended to be hematologic malignancies, including forms of leukemia.

The authors hope that the study will lead to prospective trials with the goal of decreasing not only DLBCL relapse, but also the development of second primary cancers.


  • Lymphoma stage at diagnosis may predict when and where new cancer forms [press release]. University of Colorado Cancer Center website. Published October 8, 2019. https://coloradocancerblogs.org/lymphoma-stage-predict-secondary-cancer/. Accessed October 9, 2019.

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