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Not Just One, But Many

Some people develop multiple primary tumors throughout their lives and researchers are beginning to tease out why, the Washington Post reports.

In some cases, people develop additional primary tumors as a result of the treatment they received for a first cancer, but in other cases, these additional primary tumors are due to genetic variants — such as ones that cause conditions like Li-Fraumeni Syndrome — or even a combination of genetic variants and earlier treatments, the Post says.

"We know that when individuals are treated for first cancers, many of the drugs or radiotherapy kills the cancer cells by interfering with the DNA," St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's Kim Nichols tells the Post. "When that happens, you can introduce a change in the DNA that can lead to cancers down the road. The question is: How much of a risk came from treatment, and how much from an underlying genetic condition? We are learning about that now. It hasn't been comprehensively studied, and it needs to be."

The Post adds that that the US National Institutes of Health has a study underway examining Li-Fraumeni Syndrome.