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Is Lupus Cancer? – What Is Lupus? And How It Is Linked With Cancer

Is lupus cancer? Lupus is associated with 16 cancer forms. Compared to the general population, systemic lupus erythematosus is related to a slight increase in cancer risk. This risk includes a four-fold increase in the chance of non-Hodgkin lymphoma but a four-fold reduction in the risk of other malignancies (such as breast cancer).

The pathophysiology underpinning the higher risk of hematologic cancer is unknown. However, various putative explanations have been hypothesized, including tumor necrosis factor malfunction and other routes. A lower incidence of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer may be caused by hormonal variables or lupus-related antibodies, although these relationships have yet to be proven.

A girl with facial rashes is looking into a mirror
A girl with facial rashes is looking into a mirror

What Is Lupus?

Lupus is a condition in which your immune system assaults your tissues and organs (autoimmune disease). Lupus-related inflammation may impact many bodily systems, including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.

Lupus is difficult to diagnose since its signs and symptoms often resemble those of other illnesses. The most distinguishing feature of lupus is a face rash that mimics butterfly wings extending over both cheeks, which occurs in many but not all instances of lupus.

Some individuals are genetically predisposed to developing lupus, which may be caused by infections, certain medicines, or even sunshine. Although there is no cure for lupus, medications may help manage symptoms.

Association Between Lupus And Cancer

Lupus erythematosus ("lupus" or "SLE") and other autoimmune illnesses have been linked to an increased risk of developing certain cancers. Lupus patients, in particular, are at an increased risk of lymphoma and other malignancies, such as cervical cancer. Researchers have discovered certain links between lupus and cancer. For example, immunosuppressive drugs, such as azathioprine (Imuran) and mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept), are commonly recognized to increase cancer risk. However, one of the most extensive studies to look at this link found that the risk of cancer is highest during the early stages of lupus, showing that immunosuppressive medicine is not the primary link between lupus and cancer. The specific association between lupus and cancer is yet unknown to doctors.

  • Lupus and lymphoma: Lupus patients have an elevated incidence of Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to studies. It is thought that the lupus disease process causes the increased risk of lymphoma—specifically, overstimulation of B-cells combined with abnormalities in the immune system's surveillance system—rather than by drugs or other risk factors. Some claim that immunosuppressive medicines increase the incidence of lymphoma and other blood malignancies, mainly if used for five years or more. Furthermore, those with Sjogren's syndrome, which is relatively frequent in lupus, have an even higher risk of lymphoma, indicating that lymphoma in lupus patients may be connected to this disorder.
  • Lupus and breast cancer: According to some research, women with lupus are more likely to get breast cancer. Increased estrogen levels may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer in women with lupus.
  • Lupus and lung cancer: Lung cancer is around 1.4 times more likely in patients with lupus than in the general population. Surprisingly, lupus and lung cancer patients are more likely to develop uncommon kinds of cancer. However, many lupus patients who acquire lung cancer smoke, much like the general population. Tobacco usage is responsible for 85 percent of lung cancer cases. It is Patients with lupus mustn't. Smoking does not raise the risk of getting lung cancer and eases the risk of cardiovascular disease (which is also significantly increased in persons with lupus). It inhibits lupus medications like Plaquenil from functioning correctly. Speak with your doctor if you need assistance stopping. He or she can assist you in determining the most efficient method for quitting smoking.
  • Lupus and cervical cancer: Certain studies have shown an increased incidence of cervical cancer and abnormal PAP tests in women with lupus. One research related an increased prevalence of abnormal PAP tests to a history of sexually transmitted illness, contraception usage, and immunosuppressive drugs. Some doctors believe that either the use of immunosuppressive medications or faulty innate immunity reduces lupus patients' capacity to fight against human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus linked to cervical cancer. However, these links, like most of our understanding of cancer in lupus, are not completely recognized or understood.
  • Lupus and endometrial cancer: New research reveals that lupus patients have an increased risk of endometrial cancer, which is uncertain.

Lupus Cancer Causes

There are various ideas as to why patients with lupus are more likely to get cancer in general and lymphoma in particular:

  • Chronic inflammation is one such notion. Because diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is the most prevalent non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtype developing in lupus, the theory is that persistent inflammation may increase the risk of lymphoma in autoimmune illnesses like lupus.
  • Another notion is similar, except it is based on genetics. The autoimmunity of lupus is hypothesized to stimulate the immune system, causing lymphocytes, and lymphoma cells, to divide and multiply.
  • Another notion revolves around the Epstein-Bar virus, or EBV. This is the same virus that causes infectious mononucleosis, often known as mono. The theory is that a chronic EBV infection, which lingers to exacerbate the immune system in exactly the right ways, is part of a shared road to illness for both lupus and B-cell lymphomas.

Lupus Cancer Precautions

Certain risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, hormone replacement treatment, and immunosuppressive medicine use, enhance a person's chances of developing cancer. As a result, you must adopt healthy living choices. Obesity also raises the risk of some malignancies, so choose meals that will help you maintain a healthy weight.

Sunlight triggers lupus flares and increases the risk of skin cancer. Lupus patients should avoid the sun whenever feasible. If you must go outside, apply sunscreen with an SPF of 85 or higher and ensure it includes Helioplex to protect you from UV-A and UV-B rays.

People Also Ask

What Percentage Of Lupus Patients Get Cancer?

The cumulative cancer incidence rate in SLE patients was 6.31 occurrences per 1000 patients (95 percent CI, 4.00-9.45). After stratification by age and gender, women over the age of 64 had the largest number of first cancers (16 cases per 1000 patients; 95 percent CI, 6.45-32.65).

Is Lupus A Very Serious Disease?

Lupus may seriously affect the kidneys, and renal failure is one of the primary causes of mortality in patients with lupus. The brain and the central nervous system Lupus may cause headaches, dizziness, behavioral changes, eyesight issues, and even strokes or seizures in the brain.

What Cancer Is Linked To Lupus?

Non-lymphoma, Hodgkin's Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, cervix, vagina/vulva, renal, bladder, esophageal, gastric, hepatobiliary, lung, oropharynx, larynx, non-melanoma skin, and thyroid cancers are among the 16 cancer types connected to lupus.


Despite the higher cancer risk in persons with lupus, research suggests that lupus patients are just as likely as the general population to get cancer screenings. As a result, you must discuss lupus and cancer with your doctor to ensure that you visit the proper doctors for cancer tests as frequently as suggested.

About The Authors

Suleman Shah

Suleman Shah - Suleman Shah is a researcher and freelance writer. As a researcher, he has worked with MNS University of Agriculture, Multan (Pakistan) and Texas A & M University (USA). He regularly writes science articles and blogs for science news website immersse.com and open access publishers OA Publishing London and Scientific Times. He loves to keep himself updated on scientific developments and convert these developments into everyday language to update the readers about the developments in the scientific era. His primary research focus is Plant sciences, and he contributed to this field by publishing his research in scientific journals and presenting his work at many Conferences. Shah graduated from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (Pakistan) and started his professional carrier with Jaffer Agro Services and later with the Agriculture Department of the Government of Pakistan. His research interest compelled and attracted him to proceed with his carrier in Plant sciences research. So, he started his Ph.D. in Soil Science at MNS University of Agriculture Multan (Pakistan). Later, he started working as a visiting scholar with Texas A&M University (USA). Shah’s experience with big Open Excess publishers like Springers, Frontiers, MDPI, etc., testified to his belief in Open Access as a barrier-removing mechanism between researchers and the readers of their research. Shah believes that Open Access is revolutionizing the publication process and benefitting research in all fields.

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