Cancer risks with JAKi and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis: a national real-world cohort study

Ann Rheum Dis. 2023 Jul;82(7):911-919. doi: 10.1136/ard-2022-223636. Epub 2023 Mar 3.


Objective: Assess cancer risks with Janus kinase inhibitors (JAKi) versus biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) in clinical practice.

Methods: Cohort study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or psoriatic arthritis (PsA) initiating treatment with JAKi, tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi) or other (non-TNFi) bDMARDs 2016-2020 using prospectively collected data from the Swedish Rheumatology Quality Register linked to other registers including the Cancer Register. We estimated incidence rates, and HRs via Cox regression, for all cancers excluding non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), and for individual cancer types including NMSC.

Results: We identified 10 447 patients with RA and 4443 patients with PsA who initiated treatment with JAKi, a non-TNFi bDMARD or a TNFi. Median follow-up times in RA were 1.95, 2.83 and 2.49 years, respectively. In RA, based on 38 incident cancers other than NMSC with JAKi vs 213 with TNFi the overall HR was 0.94 (95% CI 0.65 to 1.38). Based on 59 vs 189 incident NMSC, the HR was 1.39 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.91). At 2 or more years since treatment start, the HR for NMSC was 2.12 (95% CI 1.15 to 3.89). In PsA, based on 5 vs 73 incident cancers other than NMSC, and 8 vs 73 incident NMSC, the corresponding HRs were 1.9 (95% CI 0.7 to 5.2) and 2.1 (95% CI 0.8 to 5.3).

Conclusion: In clinical practice, the short-term risk of cancer other than NMSC in individuals initiating treatment with JAKi is not higher than for TNFi, but we found evidence of increased risk for NMSC.

Keywords: Arthritis, Psoriatic; Arthritis, Rheumatoid; Biological Therapy; Epidemiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Psoriatic* / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / drug therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Janus Kinase Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Janus Kinase Inhibitors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors