In a recent study published online in the journal Medical Oncology researchers found that young women treated with radiation for cervical cancer had a higher incidence of secondary colorectal cancer later in life than women who were not treated with radiation therapy. As a result they recommended earlier colorectal cancer screening for this group than earlier recommended starting at about 8 years after treatment instead of waiting until age 50.
Researchers analyzed data on over 64,500 cervical cancer cases collected between 1973 and 2009. Among cervical cancer survivors studied, colon, rectum, and anus tumors were found to be two to four times more frequent in the group treated with radiation than in the group not treated with radiation. The rate of colorectal cancer in the group receiving radiation for cervical cancer varied by time and began about 8 years after treatment and increased over time until after 35 years they were 3 to 4 times more like to develop colorectal cancer than women who had not had radiation.