Objective: This study evaluated the risk of cancer among patients with iron deficiency anemia (IDA) by using a nationwide population-based data set.
Method: Patients newly diagnosed with IDA and without antecedent cancer between 2000 and 2010 were recruited from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. The standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) of cancer types among patients with IDA were calculated.
Results: Patients with IDA exhibited an increased overall cancer risk (SIR: 2.15). Subgroup analysis showed that patients of both sexes and in all age groups had an increased SIR. After we excluded patients diagnosed with cancer within the first and first 5 years of IDA diagnosis, the SIRs remained significantly elevated at 1.43 and 1.30, respectively. In addition, the risks of pancreatic (SIR: 2.31), kidney (SIR: 2.23), liver (SIR: 1.94), and bladder cancers (SIR: 1.74) remained significantly increased after exclusion of patients diagnosed with cancer within 5 years after IDA diagnosis.
Conclusion: The overall cancer risk was significantly elevated among patients with IDA. After we excluded patients diagnosed with IDA and cancer within 1 and 5 years, the SIRs remained significantly elevated compared with those of the general population. The increased risk of cancer was not confined to gastrointestinal cancer when the SIRs of pancreatic, kidney, liver, and bladder cancers significantly increased after exclusion of patients diagnosed with IDA and cancer within the first 5 years. This finding may be caused by immune activities altered by IDA. Further study is necessary to determine the association between IDA and cancer risk.