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More Cancer Cases in Young Adults Under Treatment for Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
April 15, 2011

More Cancer Cases in Young Adults Under Treatment for Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis

The FDA says it continues to receive reports of hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma in patients receiving treatment with tumor necrosis-factor (TNF) blockers, azathioprine, or mercaptopurine.

The agency lists a total of 43 cases of the aggressive cancer, mostly among young people, but with some among older adults. Most had been under treatment for Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis with a combination of immunosuppressants, but cases were reported in patients taking azathioprine or mercaptopurine alone.

Two years ago, the FDA added a boxed warning to TNF blockers on the risk for cancer in children and adolescents using the drugs. TNF blockers include Remicade (infliximab), Enbrel (etanercept), Humira (adalimumab), Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) and Simponi (golimumab).

The agency says "risks and benefits of using TNF blockers, azathioprine, and/or mercaptopurine should be carefully weighed when prescribing these drugs to children and young adults, especially for the treatment of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis."

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