How Does Multiple Sclerosis Affect Cancer Potential? New studies show that the answer may depend on the type of cancer.
The study found that patients with MS were much more likely to develop bladder cancer than people without the disease. But there was also good news. According to Canadian researchers, their risk of breast and colon cancer is not higher than those who do not have MS.
It is not clear why MS patients are prone to bladder cancer.
“We can only speculate on the reason for this discovery,” said Dr. Ruth Ann Marie, a senior researcher at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, a professor of medicine and community health sciences.
She pointed out that people with MS have a higher incidence of urinary tract infections and are more likely to use indwelling or Foley catheters that stay in the bladder than people without MS.
“These factors can increase the risk of bladder cancer,” Marie said.
Bruce Bevo, executive vice president of research programs at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said more research is needed to confirm an increased risk of bladder cancer.
“People with multiple sclerosis are more likely to receive urinary symptoms and treatments that can be risk factors for bladder cancer,” he said.
In this study, Marie and her team compared about 54,000 people with MS to about 267,000 people without MS. They used the cancer registry to estimate the number of 15 cancers in these groups.
They found that between 2008 and 2017, they were 72% more likely to develop bladder cancer among MS patients. However, the probability of developing colon or breast cancer was not higher in MS patients than in other patients.
One limitation of this study was that researchers did not consider differences in lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, diet, and physical activity. The study also does not describe the treatment of multiple sclerosis, which can affect the risk of cancer.
Dr. Asaph Harrell, a neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who specializes in MS treatment, reviewed the findings.
“Further research should aim to elucidate this potential but unproven relationship between MS and risk of bladder cancer, taking into account potential confounders.” He said.
Dr. Wasifsaif, Deputy Doctor and Medical Director of the Northwell Hellscancer Institute in Lake Success, NY, also reviewed the study, stating that MS patients need to be educated about the risk of bladder cancer.
“Physicians who care for patients with multiple sclerosis should follow all age-recommended cancer screening guidelines,” he said.
If an increased risk of bladder cancer is confirmed, these patients may need cystoscopy to detect bladder tumors early, Saif said. This procedure allows the doctor to examine the inner wall of the bladder and the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body).
It is important for patients with multiple sclerosis to avoid tobacco, as smoking exacerbates the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and is known as a risk of cancer, Saif said. He added that they should follow a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in animal fat.
The findings were published online this week in the journal Neurology.
For more information
For more information on multiple sclerosis, see the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
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Studies say MS has different effects on cancer risk
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