14:28 PM

What Is the Link Between Autoimmune Disease and Cancer?

U.S. News & World Report discusses the connection between autoimmune diseases and cancer, citing the increased risk for developing cancer can vary based on the autoimmune condition and the medications used for treatment.

HSS rheumatologist Anne R. Bass, MD, explained people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at a slightly increased risk for certain cancers, including lung cancer. This higher risk could be caused by chronic inflammation – a known cancer risk factor – occurring in someone who has RA, noted Dr. Bass. At the same time, people who smoke are at a higher risk for both arthritis and lung cancer, she added.

While certain medications used to manage autoimmune diseases have a higher associated cancer risk, Dr. Bass advised patients to continue with their treatment. “When we say there is an increased risk, it's still small. It might be that there's even a 20% increased risk, for example, versus patients without these diseases, but it still may be only 1 in 1,000 or 1 in 500 patients (who develop cancer)," cited Dr. Bass.

People with autoimmune diseases don’t have more cancer screenings than the general population, added Dr. Bass, who also advised to keep up with any age-appropriate cancer screenings your health care team recommends.

Read the article at Health.usnews.com.