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Can rheumatoid athritis raise risk of cancer?

IANS Feb 05, 2024

While the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on joint health is well-documented, recent research has shed light on a potential link between rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, adding a new dimension to understanding the complex disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune condition that primarily affects the joints, causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and potential deformity over time.

It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's tissues, primarily targeting the synovium, the lining of the joints. This chronic inflammation leads to joint damage and, if left untreated, can result in disability.

Studies have shown that individuals with rheumatoid arthritis may have a slightly higher risk of certain types of cancer compared to the general population.

"While the exact reasons for this association are not fully understood, several factors chronic inflammation, immune Dysfunction, common risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, and genetic predisposition," Dr Vijay Ramanan, Sr. Consultant Clinical Haematologist, Bone Marrow & Stem Cell Transplant, Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune told IANS.

Types of cancer associated with rheumatoid arthritis include Lymphoma, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung and skin cancer.

According to a recent study published in the Lancet Regional Health, compared to the general population, treated rheumatoid arthritis patients were at greater risk of all-cancer and some site-specific cancers, except for breast, pancreatic and endometrial cancers which were less frequent than in the general population.

Dr Ramanan said that while the risk is relatively modest, proactive measures can help mitigate.

He suggested regular screening tests like mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies, and skin exams to detect cancer at an early, more treatable stage.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco use, can also help reduce the risk of cancer and improve overall well-being.

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