TNF for Arthritis Does Not Increase Breast Cancer Recurrences


Treatment with tumour necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi) for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) does not appear to increase the risk of recurrences among breast cancer patients. These results were recently published in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.

A common and effective treatment for RA is TNFi. However, concerns have remained regarding the risks of developing cancer recurrences among people receiving TNFi due to the way it alters some biologic pathways.

To evaluate these concerns, researchers recently conducted a study including 240 females with breast cancer and RA. One group of patients was treated with TNFi and the other group of patients did not receive any biologic therapy for RA.

At approximately 5 years from initiation of TNFi therapy, rates of breast cancer recurrences were not different between the group of women who received TNFi and those who did not receive treatment with TNFi.
The researchers stated that “Among patients with RA and a history of breast cancer, those who started TNFi-treatment did not experience more breast cancer recurrences than patients with RA treated otherwise. The generalisability of our findings to women with a very recent or a poor prognosis of breast cancer remains unknown.”

Reference: Raaschou P, Frisell T, Askling J. TNF inhibitor therapy and risk of breast cancer recurrence in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a nationwide cohort study. Annals of Rheumatoid Disease. DOI: 10.1136/annrhuemdis-2014-205745. Available at: