Did you know that people with lupus are more likely to develop cancer? According to a recent study presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting, patients with lupus are 15 % more likely to develop cancer when compared with the general population.
The study also revealed that patients with lupus are three times more likely to develop lymphoma (cancer of the white blood cells) and that woman are less likely to develop estrogen-sensitive cancers if they have Lupus (breast cancer – 30% decreased risk, endometrium – 51% decreased risk, ovary – 44% decreased risk).
With respect to other carcenomas, the following correlations were established:
- 3.4 times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- 3.2 times more likely to develop any lymphoma
- 2.8 times more likely to develop vulvo-vaginal cancers
- 2. 2 times more likely to develop liver cancer
- 1.7 times more likely to develop leukemia
- 1.7 times more likely to develop cervical cancer
- 1.2 times more likely to develop lung cancer
Systemic lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE) is an autoimmune disease, whereby the body’s immune system is unable to distinguish between harmful or foreign substances/tissue and normal/healthy tissue. As a result, the immune system ends up fighting healthy tissue as if it were diseased. Some of the symptoms associated with lupus include:
- General discomfort, uneasiness or ill feeling (malaise)
- Joint pain and swelling
- Muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pleural effusions
- Pleurisy (causes chest pain)
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Skin rash — a “butterfly” rash over the cheeks and bridge of the nose affects about half of those with SLE. The rash gets worse when in sunlight. The rash may also be widespread.
- Swollen glands
If you have lupus, you must appreciate your risk for developing cancer. The key to successful cancer treatment is early detection and treatment. Make sure that your doctor is aware of your lupus condition and that your risk for developing cancer is properly and systematically assessed.
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