Multiple sclerosis patients have lower risk of cancer: research

June 21, 2012

Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients appear to have a lower cancer risk, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health.

The study, published in the current issue of the journal Brain, is the first to investigate overall cancer risk in MS patients in .

"Because the plays important roles in both cancer and MS, we wanted to know whether the risk of cancer is different for people with MS," says Elaine Kingwell, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral fellow in the UBC Faculty of Medicine and Brain Research Centre at UBC and VCH Research Institute. "Not only did MS patients have a lower overall cancer risk, the risk for colorectal cancer in particular was significantly lower."

The researchers compared the diagnoses of cancer in MS patients in British Columbia with those of the general population. While they found that MS patients have a lower risk in general for cancer – and in particular for colorectal cancer – they found that the risks for brain cancer and bladder cancer were slightly elevated (albeit not significantly). In patients with relapsing-onset MS, the risk for non-melanoma skin cancer was significantly greater.

Further studies will be needed to understand the reasons for this reduced overall .

An unexpected finding was that for those who did develop cancer, tumour size tended to be larger at time of diagnosis. More work is needed to determine why some tumours might be caught later in people with MS.

"Because the symptoms of MS can be broad and include feelings of fatigue, it's possible the symptoms of cancer are being masked or overlooked," says Helen Tremlett, the study's senior author and an associate professor in the UBC Faculty of Medicine. She adds that, regardless of the findings, MS patients and their physicians are encouraged to follow cancer screening guidelines. Her team is planning a follow up study to determine whether death rates due to are altered in .

Related Stories

Study finds pregnancy safe in multiple sclerosis

June 27, 2011

Canadian researchers have found that maternal multiple sclerosis (MS) is generally not associated with adverse delivery outcomes or risk to their offspring. Full findings now appear in Annals of Neurology, a journal published ...

Past pregnancies linked to reduced MS risk in women

March 7, 2012

Women who have multiple pregnancies may have a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to research published in the March 7, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals new insight into DNA repair

August 3, 2015

DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are the worst possible form of genetic malfunction that can cause cancer and resistance to therapy. New information published this week reveals more about why this occurs and how these breaks ...

Strange circular DNA may offer new way to detect cancers

July 30, 2015

Strange rings of DNA that exist outside chromosomes are distinct to the cell types that mistakenly produced them, researchers have discovered. The finding raises the tantalizing possibility that the rings could be used as ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.