Study: MS patients at a greater risk of cancer

July 02, 2019
New results of a 65-year follow-up study of nearly 7,000 Norwegian patients with multiple sclerosis suggest that patients may have a greater overall risk of developing cancer than the general population, with an especially high risk of cancer in respiratory organs, urinary organs and the central nervous system.

The Norwegian study also indicated an increased risk of developing haematological cancers in non-MS siblings of MS patients, compared with both MS patients and the general population.

Cancer risk among MS patients compared to the non-MS population:

* Respiratory cancer: 66 percent increase in risk
* Central nervous system: 52 percent increase in risk
* Urinary cancer: 51 percent increase in risk
* Overall cancer: 14 percent increase in risk

This long-term analysis was based on patient records from 6,883 MS patients born between 1930-1979 who were registered with various Norwegian MS and cancer registries, and prevalence studies from Norway. The analysis also included data from 8,918 siblings without MS, and 37,919 non-MS individuals.

The researchers said previous clinical studies of cancer risk in MS patients in various countries have shown inconsistent findings, so further research is needed. The research outlines the need for greater awareness of cancer risk among MS patients, which should lead to shortened cancer diagnosis and more effective therapy in order to improve outcomes and survival. The study’s authors also said additional research could also identify the possible connections between haematological cancer and MS and new ways in which we could manage these conditions.

The study was presented at the 5th European Academy of Neurology Congress in Oslo, Norway.

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