Review finds TNF inhibitors may increase skin cancer risk

TUMOUR necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi) therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may increase the risk of skin cancer, a systematic review finds.

However, the meta-analysis of 21 studies covering 40,000 patients showed TNFi drugs infliximab, adalimumab and etanercept do not increase overall cancer risk in exposed RA patients compared to other RA patients.

Compared to the general population, patients treated with TNFi are at increased risk of lymphoma, but the risk is not increased when compared to RA patients taking classic DMARDs.

Four studies showed patients treated with TNFi were 45% more likely to develop non-melanoma skin cancer and two studies showed patients taking TNFi patients were 79% more likely to develop melanoma.

Ann Rheum Dis 2011 online 8 Sept