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According to the results of a recently published study from Swedish investigators treatment with tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNF) does not appear to increase the rate of breast cancer recurrence among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  The study’s results should help to allay any concerns about the potential for tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors to promote cancer recurrence.

Two previous studies have examined the risk of recurrence of any type of cancer in patients treated with a TNF inhibitor and the impact of TNF inhibitors on cancer recurrence was unclear.  In order to further evaluate the potential impact of TNF inhibitors doctors in Sweden elected to evaluate their role in women with breast cancer because of its high lifetime risk and the similar peak age of onset of both breast cancer and RA at around age 60 years.

The researchers matched 120 patients with breast cancer who were treated with TNF inhibitors (adalimumab, certolizumab pegol, etanercept, golimumab, or infliximab) to 120 patients who had never received treatment with a biologic. The patients had started TNF inhibitors or began follow-up a median of 9.4 years after their breast cancer diagnosis.

Overall nine patients treated with a TNF inhibitor developed a breast cancer recurrence compared with nine of the biologic-naive patients.  The risk did not change appreciably in different models that adjusted for small differences in prognostic factors for breast cancer recurrence and RA-related characteristics.

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The authors concluded that there appears to be little risk of breast cancer recurrence for RA patients who take TNF inhibitors nearly 10 years after their initial diagnosis.

Reference

1.  Ann. Rheum. Dis. 2014 Aug. 8

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