Results further confirm low cancer risks
Rheumatologists began having
concerns about the possible impact
of biological drugs on cancer when
these types of drugs first became
available 20 or more years ago.
Registries have allowed us to follow these patients, and, so far, we
have consistently seen that the risk
for cancer is very low. The major
adverse effect from treatment with
biological drugs is infection.
The most confirmed finding
has been that biological drugs do
not cause new cancers. We have
known less about the risk patients
with a history of cancer face for
recurrence by taking a biological
drug. The data on this have so far
been scarce. Most guidelines ad-
vise that, when patients have had
cancer, the possible use of a bio-
logical drug should be the subject
of a shared-decision discussion
with the patient. The new data re-
ported by Prof. Askling add to the
risk information we have available
to discuss with patients.
The risk that biological drugs
pose for infections is more
complex. The infection risk also
depends on a patient’s use of glu-
cocorticoids, their age, and their
comorbidities. The infection risk
faced by a patient from treatment
with a biological drug requires an
individualised discussion that takes
into account the severity of all the
relevant risk factors.
Prof. João E. Fonseca is a professor
of rheumatology at the University
of Lisbon. He has been a speaker
for or has received research funding from Abbvie, MSD, Pfizer, Roche, and UCB.
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Click here to watch a video interview with Prof. João E. Fonseca of the
University of Lisbon.