For some time, there have been questions and concerns about the potential development of malignancies in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with biologic drugs. According to results published in the September 5, 2012 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), pooled results from more than 60 randomized controlled trials did not find a statistically significant increased risk in any type of cancer among patients who used biologic drugs for at least 6 months compared to treatment with traditional DMARDs or placebo.
The findings are significant because there has been conflicting data regarding the use of TNF blockers and an increase in certain malignancies. While the meta-analysis reported in JAMA (which included trials for Humira, Orencia, anakinra, Cimzia, Enbrel, Simponi, Remicade, Rituxan, and Actemra) is significant, researchers point out that there is a need for more systematic reviews of observational studies to establish long-term risk. The effect on patients with a history of cancer or those with cancer risk factors also is unknown at this time.
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