Background: The comparative risks of a second cancer diagnosis are uncertain after primary cancer treatment with 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT), intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), or proton beam radiotherapy (PBRT).
Methods: Pediatric and adult patients with a first cancer diagnosis between 2004 and 2015 who received 3DCRT, IMRT, or PBRT were identified in the National Cancer Database from 9 tumor types: head and neck, gastrointestinal, gynecologic, lymphoma, lung, prostate, breast, bone/soft tissue, and brain/central nervous system. The diagnosis of second cancer was modeled using multivariable logistic regression adjusting for age, follow-up duration, radiotherapy (RT) dose, chemotherapy, sociodemographic variables, and other factors. Propensity score matching also was used to balance baseline characteristics.
Results: In total, 450,373 patients were identified (33.5% received 3DCRT, 65.2% received IMRT, and 1.3% received PBRT) with median follow-up of 5.1 years after RT completion and a cumulative follow-up period of 2.54 million person-years. Overall, the incidence of second cancer diagnosis was 1.55 per 100 patient-years. In a comparison between IMRT versus 3DCRT, there was no overall difference in the risk of second cancer (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.00; 95% CI, 0.97-1.02; P = .75). By comparison, PBRT had an overall lower risk of second cancer versus IMRT (adjusted OR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.26-0.36; P < .0001). Results within each tumor type generally were consistent in the pooled analyses and also were maintained in propensity score-matched analyses.
Conclusions: The risk of a second cancer diagnosis was similar after IMRT versus 3DCRT, whereas PBRT was associated with a lower risk of second cancer risk. Future work is warranted to determine the cost-effectiveness of PBRT and to identify the population best suited for this treatment.