Cancers a Bit Higher in Kids with Lupus

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Pediatric lupus patients had slightly higher rates of cancer than other kids

December 1, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) With lupus, there are risks for other health issues from the disease-related inflammation. The rates of cancer among kids with lupus may be a bit higher compared with other kids.

A recent study looked at the rates of cancer among kids with lupus.

The results of the study showed that kids with lupus had higher rates of cancer when compared with other kids of the same ages in their region.

"Make sure kids with lupus don’t miss check ups."

Sasha Bernatsky, MD, PhD, from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, led researchers to study the rate of cancer in kids with lupus.

Lupus is a long-term disease involving the immune system. With lupus, a patient’s immune system goes after healthy tissue and organs causing inflammation and eventual damage.

For this study, the researchers looked at 1,020 patients younger than 18 from 10 pediatric health centers throughout the US and Canada from 1974 to 2009. The average age among the patients was 12.6 years.

The researchers compared the patients in the study to other kids of the same age in the same region during the same calendar year for rates of cancer.

On average, each patient was followed for 7.8 years. The total number of patient years — each year that each patient was followed — was 7,986.

Before looking at the data, the researchers expected to find three types of invasive cancers among the patients. The researchers found a total of 14 invasive cancers among the patients.

They divided the total number of invasive cancers (14) by the number of expected invasive cancers (3) to find the risk ratio of 4.7. Risk ratios are used to determine whether rates of cancer are higher or lower among a certain population compared with the general, regional population.

The highest rate of cancer was seen in lupus patients 10-19 years after they had been diagnosed with lupus with a 9.2 risk ratio, meaning 9.2 x the expected number of invasive cancers (3).

On average, most lupus patients were diagnosed with cancer 12.3 years after having been diagnosed with lupus.

Three blood cancers, two cases of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, one case of leukemia, three head and neck cancers, four unspecified cancers, and one case of the following cancers were found: bladder, brain, breast, thyroid.

The study authors concluded that they found a slightly increased risk of cancer among kids with lupus, especially blood cancers, when compared with other kids in the same population. "Of course, in absolute terms, this still translates into relatively few events (1.75 incident cancers per 1000 person-years), which is somewhat re-assuring," the researchers wrote.

This study was published in November in Arthritis Research & Therapy.

The Canadian Institutes of Health and the National Institutes of Health supported funding for this project. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
November 29, 2013
Last Updated:
December 30, 2013