Chemotherapy causes cancer?

Some woman on another board keeps insisting that one of the risks of chemo is a high risk of cancer caused by the chemo. This doesn’t make much sense to me, she’s not providing any cites, and it’s just fishy. So I went googling, and couldn’t find anything to link later cancer to chemo, other than some badly written site that didn’t provide any cites for it’s claims.

Is there any reputable science that suggests that later cancers can be linked to the cure, or is this just ‘alternative medicine’ mumbo-jumbo?

Well, chemotherapy is extremely abusive to the body in general, not only to the cancer it is intended to treat. While I have no qualifications or statistics, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that it could cause things not to work properly elsewhere. Whether that’s a different cancer or just losing your hair, I imagine that those risks are inferior to allowing the original cancer to run its course.


“Topoisomerase inhibitors are drugs that get in the way of the enzymes called topoisomerases. These enzymes work to separate the DNA strands to be copied. These drugs are used to treat certain forms of leukemia, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, and others. And this drug has two groups; type I and type II. However, some of the inhibitors can cause a secondary cancer called myelogenous leukemia, and this can be seen 2-3 years after the drug has been taken.”


Survivors of childhood cancer are at a greater risk for development of second malignant neoplasms later in life, in part due to use of chemotherapy agents in treating the childhood cancer. Cite.

Radiation and chemotherapy can cause cancers. When you already have cancer, a potential future side effect is not as much of a major concern.

It’s a necessary evil: fight the current cancer, or prevent secondary cancers by being dead via the initial cancers.

There’s also the fact that tumors often secrete factors that inhibit the growth of any other secondary tumors out there. When the primary tumor is removed, that sometimes allows other small tumors to start growing.

My husband had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the late 70s when he was 7. My impression is that treatment was extremely aggressive (they did not pussy-foot around with cancer in the late 70s–they figured he was dead anyway, so throw everything at it–surgery, chemo, and radiation). Is there anything he should do because of the increased risk? We don’t even really know the details of his treatment–he was a small child then, and his mother is dead. We always dutifully tell the doctor that he had cancer in the past, but they are fairly meh about it.