Systemic lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, kidneys, lungs, and other organs in the body. The most common symptoms include skin rashes and arthritis, often accompanied by fatigue and fever. Lupus occurs mostly in women and typically develops in people in their 20s and 30s.
The same research group previously demonstrated an association between systemic lupus and cancer in a smaller study. The current study was designed to more precisely estimate cancer rates among people with lupus, compared with the general population.
The study involved 13,492 people with lupus from 24 medical centers followed for an average of nine years. Using regional tumor registries, the researchers pinpointed people with systemic lupus and compared their cancer rates to what was expected in the general population.
Over the course of the study, 632 cases of cancer were noted among people with systemic lupus, “more than what we expected,” Bernatsky says.