-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- The cancer rate in children
with juvenile arthritis is four times higher than in other
children, a new study says.
This increased risk of cancer isn't necessarily linked to
arthritis treatments, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)
inhibitors, according to the study published online Feb. 13 in the
Arthritis & Rheumatism.
In the United States, TNF inhibitors carry a "black box" warning
about the potential cancer risk associated with the drugs.
In this study, the researchers analyzed 2000-2005 Medicaid data
from more than 7,800 children with juvenile arthritis and
comparison groups of about 650,000 children with asthma and nearly
322,000 children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
The incidence rate of probable and highly probable cancers in
children with juvenile arthritis was 4.4 times higher than in the
other groups of children.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in children is a general
term covering different types of chronic arthritis. Symptoms,
similar to adult arthritis, include joint pain, swelling,
tenderness and stiffness.
"While our findings show children with [juvenile idiopathic arthritis] have a higher incidence of cancer compared to peers without JIA, the greater frequency of malignancy does not appear to be necessarily associated with treatment, including use of TNF inhibitors," concluded Dr. Timothy Beukelman, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a journal news release.
"This highlights the critical importance of appropriate comparator groups when evaluating the safety of new medications. Further confirmation of our findings with large-scale and long-term investigation of the association between cancer and [juvenile arthritis] and its treatment is needed," he added.
Most of the children with juvenile arthritis in the study were
treated with injections of etanercept, a soluable TNF-receptor
blocker. Other anti-TNF drugs that work by different mechanisms may
yield different results, Dr. Karen Onel and Dr. Kenan Onel from the
University of Chicago noted in an accompanying journal
But, "By focusing on the possible cancer risk associated with
the use of TNF inhibitors, the underlying cancer risk associated
with [juvenile arthritis] may have been understated, and it is
important to make patients, families and physicians aware of the
possible late consequences of this disease," they added in the news
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and
Skin Diseases has more about
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