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Seconday Cancers

Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2009

My name is Stephany and I was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, stage 2ax. I noticed a bump on my neck awhile ago, I was pregnant at the time and my doctor told me twice that it was due to my colds. He told me to come back after I delivered my daughter if it was still there. I went back when she was 2 wks old(daughter is now 3 mts), they removed the lymph node on my neck and called me a week later. They told me that I had hodgkin's lymphoma. I was devestated! I am now dealing with it pretty well. It started in my chest(I have a 14 cm mass), and spread to my neck but no further, thank god! I have to get 6 rounds of AVBD, and 4-6 weeks of radiation. I have been doing pretty good, have had some sickness, and major bone pain, but nothing I cannot deal with. The doctor is shocked that I have not lost my hair and I am on my 5th treatment. I have a total of 12 treatments, maybe 14 depending on my scan results. I am pretty scared to get radiation. I have heard scary stories about getting lung or breast cancer. What are the chances of getting lung cancer, if anyone knows? I am told that if you do not smoke, which I don't, that the chances are low, but it still worries me as lung cancer is very serious.
The doctor did an X ray, it showed a SIGINIFICANT decrease in the mass in my chest, but I get my scan results tomorrow. So hopefully they are good as well.
Just thought I would share my story. Good to talk with others how have been there and done that.

hodgkoid2003's picture
Posts: 94
Joined: Apr 2009


First and most importantly, it is so encouraging to hear the preliminary results of the shrinkage of your mass. Hodgkin's is often misdiagnosed for any number of maladies. Mine too was just a cold. HD is considered one of the more rare cancers, so unlike skin or breast cancers, which PCP's may actually see more frequent symptoms for, they just aren't familiar. In the 20 years of dealing with my PCP, she has only mentioned one other patient that she has had that has/had HD.

As far as secondary cancers, or late side effects, treatments today are so much better, and safer. Not 100% as far as late effects go, but carrying a lot less chance than those of us treated 10, 20, or 30 years ago. ABVD is a common treatment regimen, and often followed up with radiation. But if you have reservations, do not be afraid to question your oncologist aboue the rads. There is an old school of radiation oncologists thought that rads alone can cure HD, but more so than not, other oncs would tend to disagree.

You are very lucky to have been far enough in your pregnancy to not have had that become an issue. Especially from a treatment aspect.

I wish you the best on your scans and conclusion of your treatment, and hope you get to enjoy longevity as I have.

Paul E. (HOdgkoid2003)

ldot123's picture
Posts: 276
Joined: Apr 2008

Hi there,

I had Hodgkins more than 20 years ago and had radiation and chemo. I have some scar tissue on my lungs but that is about all.

I did have radiation on my abdomen as well as my chest. Two years ago I developed colon cancer and there was some theorizing that maybe the radiation contributed to that but there is no way of knowing for sure. I believe the radiation you receive today is also possibly not quite as intense as it was 20 years ago.

I would say to you to go on with your treatment and follow your doctor's instructions and you will do just fine. Hodgkins is very treatable. I wish you well.

Cheers, Lance

Posts: 38
Joined: Jul 2009

14 years ago I had a 10cm mass in my chest that I did not know was there. It collapsed my left lung, paralyzed the left side of my diaphragm and cut off my left pulmonary artery. I was also pregnant at the time. I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma at 5 months of pregnancy in Aug 1995. I was very sick and they were completely surprised to find it. They had done a broncoscopy and could not enter my left lung due to the tumor's compression and found it in a CT scan. I was hospitalized for a week after that and started chemo right away. They told me I wouldn't live long enough to have my baby if I refused treatment. My daughter was born halfway through chemotherapy and is a beautiful 13 year old!

Anyway I did 8 rounds of CHOP and 6 weeks of radiation. I was 22-23 years old during treatment.

I am 36 and was diagnosed with breast cancer this June and just started chemotherapy. My oncologist told me that the radiation probably did it because I have NO family history of breast cancer. I have to have a bilateral mastectomy as well. I also have cardiomyopathy from the adriamycin and have to take heart medication and the left side of my diaphragm is still paralyzed. So the treatment did take its toll, but I am alive. :)

I was told the chance of secondary cancers is 12-20%. I guess I was unlucky that way. However, I was so ill when I was 22 that even if I knew that I would have to have cancer again later I would choose this. Last time I had a 40% chance of survival. This time I have more like 80+%. I have had 14 extra years I wouldn't have had otherwise.

So you CAN have secondary cancer from your cancer treatment. I met a woman who had cancer twice also and have read a story of a Hodgkins survivor who got breast cancer as well.

I started mammograms at age 35 and your oncologist will make sure you take preventative precautions because early detection is the key.

Take care Stephany! It is worth it. don't worry about the effects later. Stay in today. And follow your oncologist's recommendations. It will save your life.

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