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Cancer Prognosis Similar After Biologics Therapy

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with biologic agents have similar cancer survival rate

MONDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Cancers that develop after anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are similar with respect to stage at presentation and survival rates, according to a study published online Jan. 18 in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Pauline Raaschou, M.D., from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues examined a cohort of 78,483 patients with RA, 8,562 of who were treated with biologic therapy (98 percent anti-TNF) between 1999 and 2007. Using the Swedish Cancer and other registers, the investigators identified primary cancer in patients from 1999 to 2007, and post-cancer survival to the end of March 2009. Cancer stage at diagnosis and relative risk of death were compared between biologics-exposed and biologics-naive patients.

The investigators identified 314 cancers in patients who were or had been treated with biologics, compared with 4,650 cancers in biologics-naive patients. For all cancers combined, the distribution of stages at the time of cancer diagnosis was similar between patients exposed to biologics and biologics-naive patients. The relative risk of death following cancer associated with biologic exposure was 1.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.8-1.6).

"Taking stage into account, post-cancer survival in RA patients treated with anti-TNF therapy appears to be little different from post-cancer survival in biologics-naive RA patients," the authors write.

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