Is Cancer More Serious If You Also Have Another Disease?

When cancer develops in someone with other diseases, it can be more serious, according to a recent annual report from several national cancer organizations.

“Cancer does not occur in isolation,” says Lawrence Shulman, MD, in commenting on the report. “It occurs in a human being, who may have other medical problems.”

For example, if you have heart disease, obesity, or diabetes in addition to cancer — which doctors call “co-morbidities” — you are more likely to die from your cancer than someone who is dealing with cancer only.

This reinforces the importance of committing to a healthy lifestyle, Shulman says. “We increase our odds of surviving cancer if we take good care of ourselves. And, of course, a healthy lifestyle — not smoking, exercise, and weight control — all reduce the chance of getting cancer in the first place.”

Learn more about how to maintain good health through nutrition and exercise.