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September 13, 2012 | News | Living with MS

Cancer risk lower in people with multiple sclerosis

A Canadian study by researchers at the University of British Columbia reports that the overall risk of cancer in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) is lower than in the general population (Kingwell and colleagues. Brain 2012; epublished June 21, 2012).

The researchers compared cancer statistics from people in the UBC MS clinic database and general stats from the provincial cancer registry. Overall, people with MS had a 14% lower risk of cancer compared to people in the general population. The risk was particularly low for colorectal cancer (44% lower risk).

However, people with MS who did develop a cancer had larger tumours than expected, suggesting that they had not been diagnosed early enough. It’s an important reminder – for doctors as well as people with MS – not to focus exclusively on MS and neglect general health issues. People with MS still need to visit their family doctor for an annual check-up, and to see their doctor for any non-MS related health problems.

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