Objective: To evaluate the cyclosporin A (CSA)-attributed risk of developing malignancies in general and malignant lymphoproliferative diseases (LPDs) and skin cancers in particular, as well as the CSA-attributed incidence of mortality in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: In a retrospective, controlled cohort study, the incidence of malignancies and mortality was evaluated in 208 CSA-treated patients with RA compared with 415 matched control patients with RA between 1984 and 1995. Patients were followed up for a median of 5.0 years (range 1.4-12.0).
Results: Forty-eight cases of malignancy (8 in the CSA group and 40 in the control group; relative risk [RR] 0.40, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.19-0.84) were identified, of which 8 were malignant LPDs (2 CSA versus 6 control; RR 0.67, 95% CI 0.14-3.27) and 14 were skin cancers (2 CSA versus 12 control; RR 0.33, 95% CI 0.08-1.47). Seventy-three patients died (16 CSA versus 57 control; RR 0.56, 95% CI 0.33-0.95) due primarily to cardiovascular diseases (4 CSA versus 22 control; RR 0.36, 95% CI 0.13-1.04) or a malignancy (3 CSA versus 8 control; RR 0.67, 95% CI 0.18-2.43). Proportional hazards regression analysis with correction for potential confounding factors did not significantly change the results.
Conclusion: The study findings suggest that CSA treatment in RA patients does not increase the risk of malignancies in general or the risk of malignant LPDs or skin cancers in particular. Moreover, the incidence of mortality in CSA-treated RA patients was comparable to that in matched control RA patients.