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Br J Cancer. 2011 Apr 26;104(9):1478-81. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.115. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Breast, ovarian, and endometrial malignancies in systemic lupus erythematosus: a meta-analysis.

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Division of Rheumatology, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada.



An increased lymphoma risk is well documented in systemic lupus (SLE). Less attention has been focused on women's cancers, even though SLE affects mostly females. Our objective was to estimate the risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers in SLE, relative to the general population.


Data were included from five recent studies of large SLE cohorts. The number of cancers observed was determined for each cancer type. The expected number of malignancies was ascertained from general population data. The parameter of interest was the standardised incidence ratio (SIR), the ratio of observed to expected malignancies.


The five studies included 47,325 SLE patients (42,171 females) observed for 282,553 patient years. There were 376 breast cancers, 66 endometrial cancers, and 44 ovarian cancers. The total number of cancers observed was less than that expected, with SIRs of 0.76 (95% CI: 0.69, 0.85) for breast cancer, 0.71 (95% CI: 0.55, 0.91) for endometrial cancer, and 0.66 (95% CI: 0.49, 0.90) for ovarian cancer.


Data strongly support a decreased risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers in SLE. This may be due to inherent differences in women in SLE (vs the general population) regarding endogenous oestrogen, other medications, and/or genetic make-up.

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