Eye News: Increased Risk of Cancer Diagnosis after Shingles Affecting the Eye

By http://www.richmondeye.com/author/
June 2, 2011

Increased risk of a Cancer Diagnosis after Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus (Shingles affecting the eye)

(Ho JD; Xirasagar S; Lin HC, Ophthalmology. 2011; 118(6):1076-81, June 2011.)

Shingles has been associated with immune suppression and an increased risk of cancer. This population-based follow-up study investigated the risk of a subsequent cancer diagnosis after herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO - shingles affecting the eye).

Claims data was analyzed from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, and all patients with a diagnosis of HZO in 2003 and 2004 were used.  The comparison group was randomly selected from the same database, 8 patients for every patient with HZO, matched on the basis of age, gender, monthly income, and "urbanization level" of the patient's residence.

Subsequent claims for all study and comparison patients were captured over a 1-year follow-up period from their initial care visit to identify whether the patient received a cancer diagnosis during the follow-up period.

Results:

  • During 1-year follow-up, cancer was diagnosed in 4.86% of patients with HZO and 0.53% of patients in the comparison cohort. Patients with HZO had significantly lower 1-year cancer-free survival rates than the comparison cohort.
  • After adjusting for patient age, gender, monthly income, and urbanization level, patients with HZO were found to have a 9.25-fold risk of a subsequent cancer diagnosis than the matched comparison group.
  • No significant differences in cancer type were observed between the 2 groups.

The researchers concluded that Herpes zoster ophthalmicus may be a marker of increased risk of being diagnosed with cancer in the following year.

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