HS is associated with severe comorbidities, and previous studies have suggested a link between HS and cancer development, wrote Joon Min Jung, MD, of the University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea, and colleagues.
“The aberrant immune response and chronic inflammation in HS and genetic and environmental factors associated with the disease may all be factors in the development of cancer,” but large, population-based studies of cancer in HS patients are limited, they noted.
In a study published in, the researchers reviewed data from 22,468 adults with HS and 179,734 matched controls, in the Korean National Health Insurance System, seen by physicians between January 2009 and December 2017. The average age of the participants was 34 years, and 64% were male.
Overall, HS patients had a significantly higher risk of cancer compared with controls, with an adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) of 1.28.
As for specific cancers, HS patients had a significantly higher risk for Hodgkin lymphoma (aHR 5.08), oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer (aHR 3.10), central nervous system cancer (aHR 2.40), nonmelanoma skin cancer (aHR 2.06), prostate cancer (aHR 2.05), and colorectal cancer (aHR 1.45).
The risk of any cancer was not significantly different between women with HS and female controls (after adjustment for comorbidities), but was significantly higher among men with HS compared with male controls, also after adjustment for comorbidities (aHR, 1.37). In addition, HS patients in both younger (less than 40 years) and older (aged 40 years and older) age groups had increased cancer risk compared with age-matched controls. Overall cancer risk and the risk of most cancer types were higher among HS patients with moderate to severe disease than in those with mild disease, with the exception of nonmelanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia.
“Overall cancer risk showed a tendency to increase with worsening HS severity, reinforcing the possibility of an association between HS and cancer development,” the researchers noted. “However, we could not identify tendencies in some specific cancers, such as nonmelanoma skin cancer, CNS cancer, and prostate cancer, because the number of occurrences of those cancers was too small in the group with moderate to severe HS.”
The study findings were limited by several factors including the potential underestimate of HS cases in the population and the inability of the study design to adjust for factors including smoking status, alcohol use, and obesity, the researchers noted. However, the results support an increased cancer risk in HS patients and suggest the need to promote lifestyle modifications to reduce risk, and to increase cancer surveillance in these patients, they said. “For early detection of skin cancer, more aggressive histologic examination and a high level of suspicion are required,” they added.
The study was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea and the Korea Health Technology R&D Project. The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose.
SOURCE: Jung JM et al. JAMA Dermatol. 2020 May 27. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.1422.