Venous Thromboembolism in RA Associated With Increased Cancer Risk

Healthday News — Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and venous thromboembolism (VTE) have increased risk of cancer in the first year after VTE and during a longer follow-up period, according to a study published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

Alma B. Pedersen, MD, PhD, from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues examined the cancer risk subsequent to VTE among RA patients. Patients with RA and a first-time diagnosis of VTE (index date) during 1978 to 2013 were included (2497 patients) and compared with patients in an RA cohort without VTE (11,672 patients) and a general population without RA and without VTE (12,730 individuals).

The researchers found that the cumulative incidence of cancer within the first year of the index date was 3.2%, 2.2%, and 2% among RA patients with VTE, among RA patients without VTE, and in the general population cohort. 

The incidence rate ratios were 1.79 and 2.12 for RA patients with VTE vs RA patients without VTE and the general population, respectively. From more than one to 36 years after the index date, the incidence rate ratios of cancer for RA patients with VTE were 1.16 and 1.33 compared with RA patients without VTE and the general population, respectively.

“VTE may not only be a result of inflammation and immunological dysfunctions associated with RA, but may also be a marker for occult cancer,” the authors write.

The Lundbeck Foundation and the Novo Nordisk Foundation established a program that provided grant funding for the study.

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Pedersen, AB, Vandenbroucke, J, Horváth-Puhó, E, Sørensen, HT. Venous thromboembolism and risk of cancer in patients with rheumatoid arthritis [published online September 15, 2017]. J Thromb Haemost. doi: 10.1111/jth.13846