Association Between Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Cancer Risk


Key Points

  • 16 cancer types were linked to SLE.
  • The analysis also revealed no significant association between SLE and breast, uterus, ovarian, pancreatic, colorectal, and brain cancers.
  • The cancer risk was found in both sexes.

New research published by Song et al in Arthritis Research & Therapy evaluated the link between lupus and cancer risk, supporting the data from earlier studies. The newer study indicates an association between systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and increased risk for several cancers (blood, gastrointestinal, and lung), decreased risk for prostate cancer and cutaneous melanoma, and no effect on some others.

To investigate the potential relationship between SLE and various cancers, relevant articles were comprehensively and systematically identified from the online databases PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science. Researchers analyzed a total of 24 eligible studies.


The 16 cancer types linked to lupus include non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, cervix, vagina/vulva, renal, bladder, esophagus, gastric, hepatobiliary, lung, oropharynx, larynx, nonmelanoma skin, and thyroid cancers.

The cancer risk was found in both sexes.

The analysis also revealed that among common types of cancer (in people without lupus), including breast, uterus, ovarian, pancreatic, colorectal, and brain, there is no significant association.

Researchers concluded, “This comprehensive meta-analysis provides epidemiological evidence supporting the associations between SLE and cancer risk. This evidence could be utilized to drive public policies and to help guide personalized medicine to better manage SLE and reduce associated cancer morbidity and mortality.”

Disclosure: The study authors’ full disclosures can be found at

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.