Cancer Risk Up in Taiwanese With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis patients in Taiwan have increased hematological, kidney cancer risk

MONDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Taiwanese patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have an increased cancer risk, particularly for hematological, kidney, and vagina/vulva cancers, according to a study published in the February issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Yi-Ju Chen, M.D., Ph.D., from Taichung Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, and colleagues analyzed data from 23,644 RA patients between 1996 and 2007 from the National Health Insurance database of Taiwan. The patients had no prior history of cancer. The standard incidence ratios (SIR) for different cancers were evaluated.

The researchers identified 935 cancers in RA patients. They also found that the relative cancer risk was higher in younger patients. An increased cancer risk was evident in RA patients (SIR, 1.23), particularly for hematological cancers (SIR, 2.74). The risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was the highest of the hematological cancers (SIR, 3.54), and the risk of cancers of the kidney and vagina/vulva were the highest of the solid tumor types. A decreased risk was noted for cervical cancer and nonmelanoma skin cancer. Cancers were identified mostly within the first year after the patient was diagnosed with RA.

"Current treatments for RA in Taiwan are a combination of several immunomodulatory drugs," the authors write. "Because some of these medications may result in end-organ damage or cancer risks, the direct effect of immunosuppressive treatment on cancer risk in patients with RA needs further studies."

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Physician's Briefing