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Friday, March 7, 2014
Are The Chances Of Developing Cancer Increased With The Diagnosis Of Sarcoidosis?
Are the chances of developing cancer increased with the diagnosis of sarcoidosis? Does the use of methotrexate or plaquenil affect the risk of developing cancer. If so what types of cancer would one screen for?
Several studies have been conducted to determine if sarcoidosis increases the risk of cancer. The results of these studies are mixed. One study showed no increase in risk (published in Thorax in 1997) while another (published in American Journal of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in 1999) suggested a slight increase in cancer risk (less than 40% higher than normal). No study has considered how methotrexate or plaquenil treatment influences the risk of cancer in those being treated for sarcoidosis. Since untreated active sarcoidosis can be difficult to live with and can lead to damage of affected organs, most experts would agree that it is best to control the disease activity with medications, such as plaquenil and methotrexate. Naturally, it is desirable to use the lowest effective doses of these treatments to reduce the risk of side effects or complications. It should be emphasized that methotrexate should be avoided in women and men who are planning on having children due to the risk of birth defects.
Elliott D Crouser, MD
Associate Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University