Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. When body’s normal control mechanism stops working Cancer develops. Old cells do not die but when they grow out of control and form new cells, a mass of tissue or tumor is formed, called cancer. Cancer are named after the place that they grow at, like Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer, Colorectal cancer and so on.

Though these cancers can be treated with advanced technologies through Surgery—where the tumor is directly removed; Chemotherapy-chemicals are used to kill the cancer cells; Radiation Therapy- X-rays are used to kill the cancer cells, cancer sometimes is not fully treated it comes back.

Reasons for Cancer to Come Back

Even after treatment some cancer cells may remain in the body. As time passes these cells multiply and grow in size and form cancer again. This can be identified through conducting tests again. When and where the cancer comes back depends on the type of cancer. It can come back after weeks, months or even after years of the original cancer was treated. Doctors also cannot predict if the cancer will recur.

Cancer Can Recur in The Following Ways

  • Local recurrence in the original cancer area.
  • Regional recurrence near the original cancer area.
  • Distant recurrence in another part of the body.

Recurrent Cancer: The recurrent cancer is known by the name, where it originally started even if it recurs in some other part of the body. For example, if breast cancer recurs in the liver, it is still called breast cancer and not liver cancer. Doctors call it metastatic breast cancer, means the cancer has spread to another part of the body.

Cancer Recurrence Symptoms

  1. bladder and bowel habits change.
  2. a sore that does not heal.
  3. unusual discharge or bleeding.
  4. lump in the breast or in any other part of the body.
  5. indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
  6. wart or mole changes in it.
  7. continues cough.
  8. Tiredness.

Reducing the Risk of Cancer Recurrence

Regular exercise, weight to be maintained, reduce stress, healthy eating, consumption of alcohol should reduce, stop smoking, keep the doctor ie the oncologist about any changes in the body.

When cancers comes back it doesn’t mean that the treatment was wrong. Cancer cells are difficult to understand, some of them survive through strong therapies.

Tests conducted to find out cancer has recurred are imaging scans, lab tests, and biopsies. These tests help the doctor to identify if the cancer has recurred or it’s a new one, known as secondary cancer. Second cancers are not very common unlike the recurrence cancers.


Cancers that recur do not respond to treatments that well like it had responded the first time. Treatment depends on the type of cancer, location and as to how much it has advanced.

If the cancer has recurred in the original area surgery or radiation is advised. If the cancer has spread to a distant place than chemotherapy, biological therapy or radiation is conducted.

Second cancer

A new cancer is a second cancer. Someone who already had cancer gets it. It is totally a new cancer completely different from the earlier one. A recurrence cancer is one when the first one comes back, even if it comes back in another area. Second cancers are also common.

Risk Factor of Second Cancer

The risk factor in second cancer is very high:

Inherited genes-Second cancer is passed from a parent to the child.

Cancer remains after treatment- sometimes very few cancer cells are left even after treatment.

Certain cancer treatments: sometimes chemotherapy and radiation treatment also can bring back the second cancer. This may be because of continuing to smoke, drinking alcohol, over-weight, eating unhealthy diet. This second cancer can be prevented if smoking is stopped, alcohol consumption is reduced, exercise regularly.

Cancer Recurrence Statistics

7% of the cancer patients fear that their might recur. So generally doctors do discuss and try to remove the fear through answering their direct questions or through a questionnaire.

Glioblastoma( brain and spinal cord), recurs in all the cancer patients even if they are treated.

Ovarian cancer, in 85% of the patients this cancer recurs.

Soft tissue sarcoma, in 50% it recurs. If diagnosed in the later stage recurrence is 100%.

Bladder cancer, in 50% of the patients the recurrence is there after cystectomy.

Pancreatic cancer, in spite of  chemotherapy 36% to 46% recurrence.

B-cell lymphoma, recurrence in 30% to 40% patients.

T-cell lymphoma, recurs in 75% of the patients.

Some cancers are treated in earlier stages, so the percentage of recurrence is less, for example kidney cancer, leukemia in children and so on.

Cancer Remission

Cancer remission means that the signs and symptoms of cancer have reduced. It can be partial or completely reduced. If it is complete remission then the signs and symptoms have totally disappeared. Doctors in such a situation say that the disease is fully cured. If the cancer comes back after remission then it is called recurrence.  When a person is in remission sometimes means there a little chance or no signs of cancer. But still it is better to see the doctor with regular appointments, to check that cancer does not develop again. To go into remission chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, hormone therapy, bone marrow therapy can also be done. So to keep the cancer away eating healthy, exercising, stop smoking, limit alcohol consumption joining a support group can help.

Survival of Cancer Recurrence

After being treated for cancer, 3% of these survivors develop a second cancer, different from the original one. These patients survive long because of advancements in treatment. Fear of recurrence in more in less educated, women, unmarried,  because of higher levels of depression and anxiety, mental and physical tiredness and because of quality of life is low and mainly because follow up treatment is not taken seriously. Generally breast cancer, colon cancer and melanoma come back. Many of them can survive for months or years with the right treatment,  for such patients it’s like diabetes or heart disease. Staying positive also helps for survival. Early detection and treated, survival chances are more. Counselling will also help to face the recurrence of cancer. Joining a support group or online group to share and exchange feelings and experiences with others who are survivors helps to cope better with the disease.

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