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MONDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- People with herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles, are not at greater risk for cancer, according to a new Taiwanese study.
In background information in the report, the researchers said the question of whether there was an increased risk of cancer after shingles diagnosis was "controversial."
In their study, published in the Sept. 17 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the authors concluded that extensive cancer screening is unnecessary once people are diagnosed with shingles.
The condition usually starts with pain, itching or tingling on one side of the face or body, which is followed by a rash. It is caused when the same virus that causes chickenpox remains in the body and reactivates years later, in the form of shingles, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We found no overall increased risk of cancer among patients with herpes zoster compared with the general population, regardless of sex, age or years of follow-up," said study author Dr. Yi-Tsung Lin and colleagues in the infectious diseases division at Taipei Veterans General Hospital.
The study involved nearly 36,000 people in Taiwan who recently had been diagnosed with shingles. After taking their other illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, into account, no increased risk of cancer was found in these patients, the study authors noted in a journal news release.
"These findings suggest that the extensive investigations for occult cancer at the time of diagnosis of herpes zoster or enhanced surveillance for cancer after such a diagnosis is unnecessary," the study authors concluded.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about shingles.
SOURCE: CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), news release, Sept. 17, 2012
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Thu Sep 20, 2012 02:09 AM
I am an ovarian cancer survivor (2005) and most recently, esophageal cancer survivor (2012). I developed a cancerous lymph node on the left side of my neck and was scheduled for radiation when I contacted shingles the day prior. I was told my immune system is compromised because of the cancer which would account for me getting shingles (I am age 66). I was treated within 48 hours of the onset and I am on medication to minimize the pain in the right breast and back area where my oesophageal surgery scar is. I am in my 4th week of radiation and I do not experience any discomfort at the moment, just the usual fatigue and throat irritation. I question if the immune system has been compromised by cancer (2005 and 2012) or if I would have be susceptible to getting shingles given my age and having had chicken pox as a child.
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