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People With MS Have Worse Survival If Colon Cancer Strikes
  • Steven Reinberg
  • Posted September 16, 2021

People With MS Have Worse Survival If Colon Cancer Strikes

Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients diagnosed with colon cancer may have a greater risk of dying from cancer or other causes in the next six months to year than colon cancer patients without MS, a Canadian study finds.

"These results warrant further investigation to determine what factors may lead to shorter survival times," said study author Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie, a professor of neurology at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.

Among many questions that she said need to be investigated are these:

  • Are people with MS less likely to receive cancer treatment?
  • Or are they less able to tolerate the effects of chemotherapy?
  • Are factors specific to MS involved?
  • How accommodating is the cancer care system for people with disabilities?

For the new study, Marrie's team looked at health records for 338 people in Canada with MS and colon cancer. These patients were compared with more than 1,300 people who had colon cancer but not MS. On average, they were diagnosed with cancer at 65 years of age.

The researchers found that people with MS were 45% more likely to die of any cause six months after their cancer diagnosis than people without MS. They were also 34% more likely to die of any cause in a year. After that, the risk of death was the same for both groups.

Also, people with MS were more likely to die of cancer than people without MS only at six months after diagnosis, when their risk was 29% higher.

"Understanding more about the factors involved in treating cancer in people with MS and their outcomes will be helpful for people with MS and their doctors as they balance the benefits of cancer treatment with the potential adverse effects and consider life expectancy and quality of life," Marrie said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.

The findings were published online Sept. 15 in the journal Neurology.

More information

To learn more about MS, visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Sept. 15, 2021

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