People with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) May Have Increased Risk of Cancer: Norway-Based Survey Suggests

MS

The initial results of a large study in Norway suggests that the incidence of cancer among people with MS, their siblings can be compared to the general population using their health records.

Although the risk of cancer among individuals with MS was between 12-14% higher than previously researched, the researchers reported significant increased risks of respiratory, central nervous system, and urinary cancers based on statistics. Relatives without MS were found to have higher risk of blood cancers than the general population. This study does not affirm that MS causes cancer.

These results were presented at the European Academy of Neurology Congress in Oslo, Norway, and should be considered to be at its early stage. Any further research publication of the study in a peer-reviewed journal, and additional study in other large population to confirm the risk, should be able to provide additional crucial details to help us understand the relationship between MS and cancers, and possible implications for people with MS and their family members as well as the anxiety that may come along with it.

These type of findings in large populations may point to the need for increased awareness and surveillance for cancer detection in individuals with MS and their family members, with proper counseling that may be needed.

In media release by the European Academy of Neurology Congress in Oslo, Norway, Dr. Nina Grytten (Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway) and her colleagues during a presentation described a large study looking to determine cancer risks among people with MS. The team retrieved health data from the Norwegian MS Registry, the Norwegian Cancer Registry, and other sources to compare the incidence of cancers among people with MS, their siblings, and the general population. This study included records of 6,935 people with MS, 9,346 siblings without MS, and 38,055 people without MS from the general population for 58-years.
 
Although the overall risk of cancer among individuals with MS was only 12-14% higher, the researchers reported that having MS was associated with significant increased risks of respiratory cancer, statistically speaking(66% increased risk), central nervous system cancers (52% increased risk), and urinary cancer (51% increased risk). Family members without MS were found to have higher risk of blood cancers (myeloma, lymphoma, leukemia) than the general population. No information was provided about the use of disease-modifying therapies or other possible contributing factors in people included in this study. This study is not affirming that MS causes cancer.

 These results were presented at the European Academy of Neurology Congress in Oslo, Norway, and should be considered preliminary. These findings in a large population may point to the need for increased awareness and surveillance for cancer detection in individuals with MS and their family members. Future publication of the study in a peer-reviewed journal, and additional study in another large population to confirm the risk, should provide additional important details to help us understand the relationship between MS and cancers, and possible implications for people with MS and their family members.