The following is a summary of the “Cancer related mortality in multiple sclerosis. A population based cohort study,” published in the January 2023 issue of Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders by Grytten, et al.

Estimate the cancer-specific and overall mortality rates of MS patients and compare them to those of a comparable population sample. There were 6,950 patients diagnosed with MS between 1930 and 1979 (n= 6,950) and followed from 1953 and 2016 (n= 37,922). Using multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression, we compared the dates of incident cancer diagnosis, death, and cause of death from the Norwegian Cancer Registry, the date of death from the Cause of Death Registry, and education levels from the National Education Database.

For MS patients, the HR and 95% CI for death from any cause was 4.97 (4.64 – 5.33); for death after a cancer diagnosis, it was 2.61 (2.29 – 2.98). Cancers of the urinary tract (2.53: 1.55-4.14), colon (2.14: 1.47-3.11), blood and marrow (1.76: 1.08-2.88), ovaries (2.30: 1.73-2.06), and breast (2.61: 1.85-3.68) were associated with a higher risk of death in MS patients than in controls. 

Patients with MS had a lower risk of dying if they had a high level of education. Multiple sclerosis patients had a fivefold increase in all-cause mortality and a twofold increase in mortality after a cancer diagnosis. Some cancers have high mortality rates, which could lead doctors to miss the disease.