Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) and cancer risk: Systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

Martina Bonifazi, Irene Tramacere, Giovanni Pomponio, Barbara Gabrielli, Enrico V. Avvedimento, Carlo La Vecchia, Eva Negri, Armando Gabrielli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: A higher incidence of cancer in scleroderma patients compared with the general population has been suggested by several observational studies, reporting, however, different estimates. Therefore, we aimed to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis to definitely assess this association. Methods: We searched MEDLINE and Embase for all original articles of observational studies on cancer incidence in scleroderma patients without language restriction published up to December 2011. Two independent authors reviewed all titles/abstracts and retrieved detailed full-text of potentially relevant articles to identify studies according to predefined selection criteria. Summary estimates were derived using random-effects model and reported as relative risk (RR). Publication bias was evaluated by trim and fill analysis. Results: From articles initially identified, 16 original studies, involving more than 7000 patients, were included in the present review. Compared with the general population, the summary RR to develop all invasive cancers in scleroderma patients was 1.75 (95% CI 1.41, 2.18). The results for selected cancer sites indicated a strong association with lung cancer (RR 4.35; 95% CI 2.08, 9.09), and a significant increased risk also for haematological neoplasms (RR 2.24; 95% CI 1.53, 3.29). The relation with breast cancer, suggested in some previous epidemiological studies, was not confirmed (RR 1.05; 95% CI 0.86, 1.29). Conclusion. The present meta-analysis, the first on scleroderma and cancer risk, provides definite estimates on the association between scleroderma and cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberkes303
Pages (from-to)143-154
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Cancer
  • Meta-analysis
  • Risk
  • Scleroderma
  • Systematic review
  • Systemic sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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