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25-10-2019 | Risk factors | News

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Interleukin inhibitors linked to elevated cancer risk

medwireNews: Results of a meta-analysis suggest that treatment with interleukin (IL) inhibitors may be associated with an increased risk for cancer and infection among people with rheumatic diseases.

The analysis, reported in JAMA Network Open, included 74 randomized placebo-controlled trials comprising a total of 29,214 participants with rheumatic diseases who were treated with IL inhibitors, most commonly tocilizumab, secukinumab, or anakinra.

In the 45 trials with available data on cancer incidence, 141 cases of cancer occurred among 15,244 patients given an IL inhibitor during a median follow-up of 28 weeks, compared with just 28 cases among 5821 individuals given placebo, translating into a significantly higher risk in the active treatment group (odds ratio [OR]=1.52), and a number needed to harm of 250 for one additional case of cancer.

Duration of IL inhibitor use was significantly associated with cancer risk (correlation coefficient=0.012 for each 1-week increase in drug use), but Jawad Bilal (University of Arizona, Tucson, USA) and team note that “the short duration of follow-up in studies included in this review may not be sufficient to detect the actual cancer risk, which can take years to develop.”

Nonetheless, they say that possibility of increased cancer risk with long-term IL inhibitor use “should be taken into consideration and needs to be confirmed by real-world data, such as long-term epidemiologic studies from registries.”

IL inhibitor use was also significantly associated with serious infection (OR=1.97) and opportunistic infection (OR=2.35) risk.

By Claire Barnard

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2019 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature group

JAMA Netw Open 2019; 2: e1913102

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