Lupus & Cancer Risk Article Review
By Dr. Robert Katz
In a paper written by Rasmus, Westermann, and others, the authors ask the question as to whether cancer risk is increased in patients with skin lupus and systemic lupus compared to the general population. This is a Danish nationwide study.
The authors conclude that the overall risk of cancer was significantly increased in both patients with skin lupus and systemic lupus. Leukemia, pancreatic cancer, and lung cancer were elevated in terms of risk. Lymphoma was also more commonly seen in lupus patients. Cancer of the liver and mouth were also more common. The authors suggest that extra awareness of cancer in patients with lupus should be considered.
Autoimmune processes causing chronic inflammation, the use of immunosuppressive medications to control the illness, possible increased susceptibility to viruses, and external environmental factors such as smoking may all influence the increased risk in lupus patients.
In the past, it has been shown that lupus may actually play a protective role in hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate.
Studies vary as to susceptibility to cancer related to lupus. This is certainly not the final word. But thorough screening is certainly reasonable in lupus patients.
Robert S. Katz, M.D.