Sarcoidosis and cancer risk: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

Chest. 2015 Mar;147(3):778-791. doi: 10.1378/chest.14-1475.


Background: An increased cancer risk in patients with sarcoidosis has been suggested, although results are conflicting in a number of case-control and cohort studies. We conducted a systematic review of all available data and performed a meta-analysis to better define and quantify the association between sarcoidosis and cancer.

Methods: We searched Medline and Embase for all original articles on cancer and sarcoidosis published up to January 2013. Two independent authors reviewed all titles/abstracts to identify studies according to predefined selection criteria. We derived summary estimates using a random-effects model and reported them as relative risk (RR). Publication bias was evaluated using a funnel plot and was quantified by the Egger test.

Results: Sixteen original studies, involving > 25,000 patients, were included in the present review. The summary RR to develop all invasive cancers was 1.19 (95% CI, 1.07-1.32). The results for selected cancer sites indicated a significantly increased risk of skin (RR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.69-2.36), hematopoietic (RR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.41-2.62), upper digestive tract (RR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.07-2.79), kidney (RR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.21-1.99), liver (RR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.03-3.11), and colorectal cancers (RR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.07-1.67). There was no evidence of publication bias for all cancers (P = .9), nor for any specific cancer site.

Conclusions: The present meta-analysis suggests a significant, though moderate, association between sarcoidosis and malignancy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / complications*