People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are at a higher risk of developing and dying from bladder cancer than people without the neurodegenerative disorder, according to a Canadian population-based study.
However, no differences were found between MS patients and unaffected individuals in terms of their risk of breast and colorectal cancers — two of the three cancer types most prevalent in this patient population.
“This is good news for people with MS, because earlier studies have shown a link between MS and breast and colorectal cancers,” Ruth Ann Marrie, MD, PhD, the study’s first author and the director of University of Manitoba’s MS Clinic in Winnipeg, Canada, said in a press release.
“While we did not find that link, our study did show that people with MS had a 72% greater risk of developing bladder cancer,” Marrie said, noting that this may be associated with the fact that MS patients “are more likely to have urinary tract infections and use catheters.”
Despite its strengths, the study was unable to adjust the results for lifestyle factors, such as smoking, diet, and physical activity, or the use of MS disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) — all of which may potentially influence cancer development.
As such, “more research is needed to confirm our findings,” said Marrie, also a professor of medicine and community health sciences at the university, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study, “Cancer incidence and mortality rates in multiple sclerosis: A matched cohort study,” was published in the journal Neurology.
A previous review study, published in 2014, had shown that cervical, breast, and digestive cancers had the highest incidence among people with MS. Of note, incidence refers to the proportion of patients developing a disease during a particular period of time.
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