Cancer and myositis: Who, when, and how to screen

Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2022 Jun;36(2):101771. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2022.101771. Epub 2022 Aug 13.


Cancer screening in idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIMs) is essential because an increased risk of cancer in IIMs has been well demonstrated. However, a consensus regarding cancer screening approaches is lacking. Therefore, the approach presented in this review reflects available evidence and our clinical experiences. Patients with IIMs should be evaluated for 3 distinct types of risk categories: (a) clinical with their history, physical examination, and laboratory parameters; (b) based on IIMs subtypes; and (c) based on serology - myositis specific and associated autoantibodies. Further, according to these characteristics, patients should be classified as low risk, moderate risk, and high risk for cancer. In our approach, all patients with IIM within 3 years of disease onset should undertake cancer screening according to their risk stratification. First, irrespective of risk, all patients should undergo age and gender-appropriate screening as per local guidelines. Patients at low-risk stratification should undertake basic cancer screening with routine blood counts, labs, and imaging; at moderate-risk stratification, patients should undertake enhanced cancer screening including CT chest; and at high-risk stratification, patients should undertake comprehensive cancer screening including PET/CT at baseline. Consensus guidelines among all major stakeholders, including rheumatologists, neurologists, dermatologists, and oncologists representing different parts of the world, establishing uniform cancer screening approaches in patients with IIM, are the need of the hour.

Keywords: Cancer; Dermatomyositis; Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies; Malignancy; Polymyositis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies
  • Humans
  • Myositis* / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography


  • Autoantibodies