Risk of second cancers cancer after a first primary breast cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Gynecol Oncol. 2015 Jan;136(1):158-71. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2014.10.029. Epub 2014 Nov 1.


Objective: To examine the scientific evidence and the risk of second primary cancers in women diagnosed with a first primary breast cancer.

Methods: The literature was searched in Pubmed and Embase and included studies published up to June 2013, using population-based data and IARC/AICR codification rules for multiple primary cancers. A qualitative synthesis was carried out and the methodological quality of the studies evaluated. Standardised incidence ratios (SIRs) on second cancer risk, weighted by the standard error of each study, were pooled using fixed and random effects models. SIRs were also pooled by age at diagnosis (<50 and ≥ 50 years), and time since diagnosis of the first breast cancer (<10 and ≥ 10 years).

Results: 15 out of 710 articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria. All of them were retrospective cohort studies either population-based (13 studies) or hospital-based studies (2 studies). The studies varied with respect to number of cases, selection criteria, definition of multiple primary cancers, and the second cancer sites included. SIRs reported in these studies for all cancers combined varied from 1.0 to 1.4. The pooled SIR estimate for second cancer risk was 1.17 (95% CI: 1.10-1.25). By age groups, SIR estimates were 1.51 (95% CI: 1.35-1.70) for women younger than 50 years and 1.11 (95% CI: 1.02-1.21) for those who were older. Women with breast cancer are at risk of second cancers within the first 10 years after the first breast cancer diagnosis (SIR: 1.19; 95% CI: 1.06-1.33), and thereafter (SIR: 1.26; 95% CI: 1.05-1.52).

Conclusion: This higher risk of second cancers in women diagnosed with a first primary breast cancer with respect to the general population emphasises the importance of prevention and control policies aimed at reducing incidence of second cancers.

Keywords: Breast neoplasms; Meta-analysis; Multiple primary; Risk; Second primary; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / epidemiology*
  • Risk