IBD Patients Taking Thiopurine Drugs May Have Increased Cancer Risk

by: cancercompass

A new study suggests thiopurine drugs that treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) increase the risk of viral infection-related cancers called malignant lymphoproliferative disorders (LD), reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Thiopurine drugs are used to treat IBD, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, by suppressing the immune system.

During the study, researchers analyzed data for 19,486 IBD patients (60% with Crohn's and 40% with ulcerative colitis or unclassified IBD). Patients were then followed for a median of 35 months.

At the start of the study, participants thiopurine use was as follows: 30% were taking it, 14% discontinued its use and 56% never took the drug. As the study progressed, 23 patients developed malignant LD.

Of the 23 patients with LD, 22 were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and the remaining person was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Overall findings suggest that IBD patients taking thiopurines have a more than five-fold increased risk compared to those who had never received the drugs. In particular, older patients, men, and patients with IBD for a long period of time, were also at an increased risk of LD.

The study was published in The Lancet.