Do anti TNF drugs cause cancer?

One major concern that patients have when they are told they need to go on a TNF inhibitor for their arthritis is, “Does this drug increase my chance of getting cancer?anti-tnf-drugs

My response is this, “Rheumatoid arthritis, the disease itself, increase the likelihood of developing lymphoma.  It does not appear that TNF inhibitors increase the likelihood of getting lymphoma.  They do increase the risk of getting non-melanoma skin cancer.”

The relative risks of melanoma and lymphoma are not increased with TNF inhibitors compared with just using non-biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

However, with prior melanoma, there is an increased incidence of recurrence of the melanoma with metastases.

This data from a large meta-analysis (Mariette X, et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2011; 70:1895-1904).

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