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Cancer Risk and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Having rheumatoid arthritis may increase a person’s risk of cancer.

Not only do people with RA have painful joints and disabling fatigue to contend with, they may have to also worry about a greater risk of cancer.

When compared to the general population, it appears that people living with rheumatoid arthritis are at a greater risk for various types of cancer.

The findings from a variety of studies over the years found that the overall risk for cancer seems to be higher among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared to people without the disease.

These studies also showed that the incidence of cancer may actually be highest within the first several years after an individual’s RA diagnosis.

Experts say this heightened susceptibility toward getting cancer has to do with a variety of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and which medications are being used to treat the RA.

It’s worth noting that a greater risk for malignancy isn’t the only RA-cancer link. Some medications used to treat RA also bring on cancer, and vice versa.

According to the recent findings, people with RA were also actually less likely to have certain types of cancer. However, when they did get those forms of cancer, the symptoms were often worse.

For example, there’s an overall reduced risk for breast cancer as well as gastrointestinal, liver, and colon cancers among people with RA. However, there’s a worse outlook associated with these kinds of cancers in these individuals.

There’s a 40 percent higher death rate among people with RA and breast cancer, compared to people with breast cancer but no RA.

Read on: Cancer Risk and Rheumatoid Arthritis

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