A CLASS OF BIOLOGICAL DRUGS USED TO TREAT RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS INCREASES THE RISK OF SKIN CANCER INCLUDING MELANOMA

September 19th, 2011

Do you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis? If you are taking a class of biological drugs referred to as TNF-inhibitors to treat you condition, you may be at a significantly increased risk of developing skin cancer.

An analysis of multiple studies cumulatively following over 40,000 RA patients exposed to the drugs for almost 150,000 patient years found that these TNF-inhibitor drugs did not increase the risk of internal cancers, but did significantly increase the risk of skin cancers, including melanoma.

Additional warnings issued by the FDA addressed the issue of increased risk of bacterial infection in people using TNF-inhibiting drugs. 

The FDA required that this warning now be included on the box labels for these drugs. Serious, including fatal, infections are a known risk of TNF-blockers according to the FDA.

If you are using one of these drugs to treat RA, discuss with your physicians the benefits and risks of this type of treatment as well as other options that may be available.

 

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.