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RA Associated Cancer Risk

Sep 19, 2023 4:24 pm

A large cohort analysis of insured rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients reveals that RA patients have a 1.69 to 2.08 fold higher risk of developing cancer, especially lymphoma or lung cancer, within 1 year of RA diagnosis.  

The analysis included nationwide health insurance claims data with 86 million enrollees across 8 years. They identified 92 864 RA patients without cancers at the time of RA diagnoses. Compared to age, race, sex matched persons without RA , they found that RA patients had a significantly higher risk of developing cancer within the first year:

  • Any cancer - OR: 1.21 (95% confidence interval [CI] [1.14, 1.29])
  • Lymphoma - OR 2.08 (95% CI [1.67, 2.58])
  • Lung cancer 0 OR 1.69 (95% CI [1.32, 2.13])
  • No significant difference in risk was detected for other cancer types

If they considered the five most commonly used RA drugs, none of them is implicated as contributing to cancer risk in RA patients without that specific drug.

These data suggested that the pathophysiology (inflammation) of rheumatoid arthritis, rather than its treatments, is implicated in the risk of subsequent cancers. . Commonly used RA treatments were unlikely to increase cancer risk.



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