What to Know About Reducing the Chance of Getting a Second Cancer

Secondary cancers are new cancers that are unrelated to a cancer you have previously had.  They are not the spread of or the recurrence of an original cancer.  Cancer survivors are at increased risk for a second cancer. 

There are things that you can do to reduce your chances of getting a second cancer.

  • Follow the survivorship care plan designed by your oncologist.
  • Continue your routine medical care with your primary care doctor after you complete your cancer treatment.
  • See your oncologist when recommended.
  • Tell your doctors about any symptoms or new problems.
  • Take medications as prescribed by your oncologist and primary care doctor.
  • Complete cancer screening tests at recommended intervals. 
  • Work with your health care team to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat healthy food including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans.  Limit the amount of red and processed meat you eat. Limit consumption of fast foods and sugar-sweetened drinks.
  • Get regular exercise.  Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity each day.
  • Limit your alcohol intake to 1 drink or less per day for women and 2 or fewer drinks per day for men.
  • Be sun safe by covering your skin when in the sun, using sunscreen, and wearing sunglasses.  Note:  Exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices can cause skin cancer.5  Avoid indoor tanning.
  • Get enough rest and sleep.

Survivor Resources

Cancer care plan:  this plan is completed by your oncologist.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommends the use of two types of plans following the completion of cancer treatment:

  • The treatment plan:  this plan, completed by your oncology team, stores information about your cancer, the treatment you received, and any follow-up care that you should get.  It provides basic information about your medical history to be given to any doctors who will care for you in the future.
  • The survivorship care plan:  in this plan, you will find information about the treatment you received for your cancer and the need for check-ups and cancer tests in the future.  This plan also would include any potential long-term effects of the treatment you received as well as information about improving your health overall.

For more information:

Supportive care services:
Columbia's Center for Comprehensive Wellness
New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Adult Cancer Supportive Care and Wellness Program

Survivor support: The American Cancer Society also sponsors support programs and services.  Check here for resources in your area. 

Survivor information:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
American Cancer Society