Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 9–13

Cancer risk following polymyositis and dermatomyositis: a nationwide cohort study in Denmark

  • Authors
  • Wong-Ho Chow
  • Gloria Gridley
  • Lene Mellemkjær
  • Joseph K. McLaughlin
  • Jorgen H. Olsen
  • Joseph F. FraumeniJr.
Research Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00051675

Cite this article as:
Chow, W., Gridley, G., Mellemkjær, L. et al. Cancer Causes Control (1995) 6: 9. doi:10.1007/BF00051675


Polymyositis and dermatomyositis (PM/DM) have been associated with cancer, although the long-term risks are poorly understood. To evaluate the risk of cancer by time periods subsequent to PM/DM diagnosis, a cohort of 539 patients hospitalized with PM/DM in Denmark between 1977 and 1989 was identified from the Danish Central Hospital Discharge Register. Cancer incidence among cohort members was ascertained by linkage to the Danish Cancer Registry using a unique personal-identification number. The overall cancer risk was elevated significantly among patients with DM (standardized incidence ratio [SIR]=3.8, 95 percent confidence interval [CI]=2.6–5.4) and to a lesser extent PM (SIR=1.7, CI=1.1–2.4). Significant excesses were observed for cancers of lung, ovary, and lymphatic and hematopoietic system. However, the excess cancer incidence declined steadily with increasing years since initial diagnosis of PM/DM. The cancer risk was increased about sixfold (SIR=5.9, CI=3.8–8.7) during the first year, but was lower during the second year (SIR=2.5, CI=1.1–4.8), with no significant excesses in subsequent years of follow-up. These findings confirm that PM/DM may occur as a paraneoplastic syndrome that calls for steps aimed at early cancer detection and treatment. Among long-term survivors of PM/DM, however, there is little evidence to warrant extensive preventive and screening measures beyond those recommended for the general population.

Key words

Cohort studyDenmarkdermatomyositisneoplasmspolymyositis

Copyright information

© Rapid Communications of Oxford Ltd 1995