8 Types of Cancer Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis


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Data is mixed on the link between RA and leukemia. A Finnish study of almost 12,000 men and 35,000 women found higher rates of leukemia among men with RA compared to those without it, but there was not a significant increase among women with RA.

Dr. Hochberg says the link between leukemia and RA is rare and is a complication associated with immunosuppressive therapies like Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) and Azasan (azathioprine), which are used to treat severe RA. Methotrexate has also been associated with increased incidence of leukemia. Dr. Hochberg is a paid consultant for several companies that make RA medicines, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, which makes Cytoxan.

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