The risk of newly diagnosed cancer in patients with rheumatoid arthritis by TNF inhibitor use: a nationwide cohort study
- Issue Date
- BioMed Central
- Arthritis Research and Therapy, Vol.24 No.1, p. 191
- Background Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has raised safety concerns about cancer risk, but study results remain controversial. This largest nationwide study to date compared cancer risk in TNF inhibitor users to non-biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (nbDMARD) users in Korean patients with RA. Methods Data on all the eligible patients diagnosed with RA between 2005 and 2016 were retrieved from the Korean National Health Information Database. The one-to-one matched patients consisted of the matched cohort. The risks for developing all-type and site-specific cancers were estimated using incidence and incidence rate (IR) per 1000 person-years. Adjusted hazard ratio (HR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were estimated using a Cox regression model. Results Of the 22,851 patients in the before matching cohort, 4592 patients were included in the matched cohort. Treatment with TNF inhibitors was consistently associated with a lower risk of cancer than in the nbDMARD cohort (IR per 1000 person-years, 6.5 vs. 15.6; adjusted HR, 0.379; 95% CI, 0.255-0.563). The adjusted HR (95% CI) was significantly lower in the TNF inhibitor cohort than the nbDMARD cohort for gastrointestinal cancer (0.432; 0.235-0.797), breast cancer (0.146; 0.045-0.474), and genitourinary cancer (0.220; 0.059-0.820). Conclusions The use of TNF inhibitors was not associated with an increased risk of cancer development, and rather associated with a lower cancer incidence in Korean patients with RA. Cautious interpretation is needed not to oversimplify the study results as cancer-protective effects of TNF inhibitors. A further study linking claims and clinical data is needed to confirm our results.
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