Risk of virus-associated cancer in female arthritis patients treated with biological DMARDs-a cohort study

René Cordtz, Lene Mellemkjær, Bente Glintborg, Merete Lund Hetland, Ole Rintek Madsen, Inger Marie Jensen Hansen, Lene Dreyer

3 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the risk of virus-associated cancer in female arthritis patients ever treated with biological DMARDs (bDMARDs) compared with never bDMARD-treated patients and ever and never treated with bDMARD compared with the general population.

METHODS: This was a cohort study that included 13 905 female patients with RA (72%), PsA (12%), AS (4%) or other arthritides (12%) identified in the DANBIO registry. Ever (n = 5647) and never (n = 10 331) bDMARD-treated patients were followed for virus-associated cancers during 2000-11 by linkage to the Danish Cancer Registry. Hazard ratios and standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated.

RESULTS: In total, 24 and 32 virus-associated cancers were identified among ever and never bDMARD users, respectively (hazard ratio = 0.9, 95% CI: 0.7, 1.2). Oropharyngeal (n = 3, SIR = 4.0, 95% CI: 1.3, 12.4) and anal (n = 2, SIR = 2.5, 95% CI: 0.6, 10.0) cancer only occurred among bDMARD-treated patients. SIR was not increased for cervical cancer, either in ever or never bDMARD-treated patients. SIRs for Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas were increased in never bDMARD-treated patients (SIR = 2.5, 95% CI: 1.5, 4.0).

CONCLUSION: bDMARD therapy was not associated with an overall excess of virus-associated cancers in female arthritis patients. The observed increased occurrence of oropharyngeal cancer needs further investigation. Lymphoma incidence was increased in patients unexposed to bDMARD treatment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRheumatology (Oxford, England)
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1017-22
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Journal Article


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