Arthritis Drugs May Up Cancer Risk
Study Also Shows TNF-Blockers May Increase Risk of Infection
Few Other Options
Matteson says he continues to use the biologics in many of his patients, but he adds that it is important to make patients aware of the potential risks when considering treatment options.
"Most of the patients appropriate for this therapy do not have other good options," he says. TNF-blocking agents "have revolutionized the way we treat rheumatoid arthritisarthritis, especially in patients who do not respond to conventional therapies."
Mount Sinai School of Medicine rheumatologist Robert Lahita, MD, PhD, agrees. He says the newly published analysis is important because it is the first study to quantify the cancer risk associated with the use of these drugs.
He points out that the cancers seen most often in the study tend to be highly treatable. And he adds that patients with few other arthritis treatment alternatives will probably consider the risk acceptable.
"The change in patients who are virtually crippled by this disease when you give them a TNF-inhibitor can be miraculous," he says. "For these patients, the benefits of taking these drugs will continue to outweigh the risks."
Remicade is also used to treat other conditions including Crohn's disease, ankylosing spondylitis, ulcerative colitisulcerative colitis, and psoriatic arthritis.