Cancer rates appear higher in patients with psoriasis, compared with the general population, prompting one researcher to recommend incorporating cancer screenings into those patients’ routine care.

Cancer rates during the five-year study were higher in psoriasis patients compared with the general population. The rates, however, were not significantly affected by biologic drugs, according to results of a five-year study presented by Alexa Kimball, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, during the American Academy of Dermatology’s Summer Academy Meeting 2014.

Using two large registries that included approximately 79.3 million patients, including 18 million patients with psoriasis, researchers compared rates of cancer diagnosis for patients with psoriasis with diagnosis rates in the general population. The researchers analyzed rates for 1) lymphoma; 2) nonmelanoma skin cancer; and 3) all skin cancers combined except nonmelanoma.

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The incidence rate for lymphoma was 11.1 per 10,000 patient years of observation (PYO) compared with 6.6 for the general population. Nonmelanoma skin cancer also had a higher incidence rate in psoriasis patients, at 147.2 for psoriasis compared with 94.2 for the general population. When looking at all cancers except for nonmelanoma skin cancer, researchers found an incidence rate of 115.5 for people with psoriasis, compared with 96 for the general population.

Researchers also analyzed cancer rates for different psoriasis treatments, but did not find a significantly greater risk associated with any particular therapy. Treatments analyzed included biologics, nonbiologics and phototherapy.

The study focused on lymphoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer because previous research associated a higher risk for these cancers with certain treatments, specifically tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors, including adaliumumab (Humira); etanercept (Enbrel); and infliximab (Remicade).


  1. Kimball AB. Abstract 102. AAD Summer 2014; Chicago; Aug. 6-10, 2014.

Disclosure: Kimball serves as a consultant for Amgen, the sponsor of this study.