The risk of malignancy associated with psoriasis

Arch Dermatol. 2001 Jun;137(6):778-83.


Objective: To measure the incidence of cancer in patients with psoriasis, stratified by the severity of their disease.

Design: A cohort study.

Setting: Administrative claims records obtained from Medicaid programs in 3 US states.

Participants: All individuals in the claims database who qualified for 1 of the 5 following groups: severe psoriasis as defined by treatment with systemic medication, less severe psoriasis, severe eczema, history of organ transplantation, and hypertension.

Main outcome measure: A diagnosis of cancer.

Results: Individuals with severe psoriasis were more likely to develop a malignancy than those with hypertension (risk ratio, 1.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.32-2.40). The risk of malignancy in the severe psoriasis group approaches that in patients with organ transplants (risk ratio, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.80-2.50). Most of these cancers were nonmelanoma skin cancers and lymphoproliferative malignancies. Those with less severe psoriasis were only slightly more likely to develop a new malignancy than those with hypertension (risk ratio, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.03-1.25).

Conclusions: Patients with psoriasis are at an increased risk of developing a malignancy compared with patients with hypertension. The increased risk is greatest for those with severe disease (ie, patients with psoriasis treated with systemic agents) and minimal (if an increased risk at all) for those with less severe disease compared with those in the hypertension group. The increased risk is mainly for lymphoproliferative cancers and nonmelanoma skin cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data
  • Medical Records
  • Mid-Atlantic Region / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Psoriasis / complications*
  • Psoriasis / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology