A More Severe Non-melanoma Skin Cancer Phenotype Is Seen in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease on Tumor Necrosis Factor-α Antagonists

Cassandra M Townsend, Reena Khanna, Aze Suzanne Wilson
Digestive Diseases and Sciences 2021 January 11

BACKGROUND: Limited data suggest that non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) risk is higher in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) particularly in those on a tumor necrosis factor-α antagonist (TNF antagonist). It remains unknown whether TNF antagonist exposure alters the clinical course of NMSC in patients with IBD or if this therapy should be discontinued.

AIMS: To assess the impact of TNF antagonist exposure on NMSC severity, recurrence and need for ancillary treatments.

METHODS: Patients with IBD seen at London Health Sciences Centre, London, Canada were assessed for a history of NMSC and pre-diagnosis TNF antagonist exposure. NMSC severity (low risk and high risk), ancillary NMSC therapies, including chemo or radiotherapy, and changes to IBD therapy were assessed.

RESULTS: Eleven of 472 patients with IBD reviewed were diagnosed with NMSC. Sixty-four percent (7/11) were on a TNF antagonist at the time of NMSC diagnosis. All patients with TNF antagonist exposure, (7/7) presented with a high-risk lesion based on National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) clinical practice guidelines. The incidence of positive margins was 42.9% (3/7) and 14.3% (1/7) required ancillary therapy. No metastatic disease was seen. TNF antagonist therapy was discontinued in a single patient due to NMSC diagnosis. Recurrent NMSC lesions were not seen in any of the TNF antagonist exposed patients.

CONCLUSIONS: In this case series, TNF antagonist exposure may be associated with a severe NMSC clinical course. Larger studies are needed to confirm whether TNF antagonist discontinuation should be considered in the setting of NMSC diagnosis in IBD.

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