Healthday News — A substantial number of patients diagnosed with incident cancer in the United States have a prior history of cancer, according to a brief report published online in JAMA Oncology.

Caitlin C. Murphy, PhD, MPH, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, examined the prevalence of prior cancer among 740,990 persons newly diagnosed with cancer (from January 2009 through December 2013) using sequence numbers from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program of cancer registries (1975 to 2013).

The researchers found that of the 765,843 incident cancers diagnosed during the study period, 18.4% (141,021) were a second order or higher primary cancer. A prior cancer history was detected in just over one-fourth of older (≥65 years) adults and 11% of younger adults newly diagnosed with cancer. There was wide variance in the prevalence of prior cancer (ranging from 3.5 to 36.9%) based on incident cancer type and age. Most prior cancers were diagnosed in a different cancer site than the incident cancer.

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“Understanding the nature and impact of prior cancer is critical to improving clinical trial accrual and generalizability, disease outcomes, and patient experience,” the authors write.

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Murphy CC, Gerber DE, Pruitt SL. Prevalence of prior cancer among persons newly diagnosed with cancer: an initial report from the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results program. JAMA Oncol. Published online November 22, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.3605