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Study suggests link between scleroderma, cancer in certain patients
Date:7/8/2010

if scleroderma could be causing cancer.

Most often, Shah says, the patients developed cancer first and then scleroderma soon after. She says one theory, as yet unproven, is that as the body generates an immune response to fight a tumor, the immune response could trigger the development of scleroderma. It is also possible, she says, that the immune response could successfully defeat a developing tumor but still result in scleroderma.

Another possibility could be that organ damage from scleroderma could predispose patients to cancer. Or it could be that the use of immune-suppressing drugs to treat scleroderma could lead to cancer.

She says that some reports in the medical literature have shown that in cases of concurrent cancer and scleroderma, treating the cancer halted the progression of the autoimmune disorder.

Several other autoimmune disorders also appear to have potential links to cancer, Shah says. This research could have implications for those diseases as well.

Many questions remain and more research is needed, says Livia Casciola-Rosen, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine in the division of rheumatology at Johns Hopkins' medical school and one of the study's principal investigators. "Are particular antibodies in scleroderma associated with increased risk of cancer? Maybe we need to look," she says. "And if you develop both at the same time, does treatment of one affect the outcome of the other?

"This research," she says, "is really just the beginning."


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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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