• Cancer

    Mayo Clinic Researchers: TNF Inhibitors May Increase Cancer Risk in the Eye

Jose Pulido, M.D., senior author of the study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Jose Pulido, M.D., senior author of the study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

ROCHESTER, Minn. — One of the family of drugs prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions is called TNF inhibitors. They act by dampening part of the immune system called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). In one of the balancing acts of medicine, the anti-inflammatory action of the drug also increases the risk for other conditions, in this case, a rare form of eye cancer, uveal melanoma. Mayo Clinic researchers make the case and alert physicians in an article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

 Mayo researchers studied three patients — two women and a man — who were treated for inflammatory disease and developed melanoma tumors in one eye within a year to two of taking TNF inhibitors. While this type of condition is probably rare, according to the researchers, there might be an increased risk if the patient has a pre-existing nevus (freckle of the eye). The women had inflammatory bowel disease; the man had rheumatoid arthritis. The studies occurred between 2009 and 2013.

Researchers say that patients considered for treatment with TNF inhibitors should first be given an eye exam to determine eye health, and any with existing conditions, such as choroidal nevus (lesions on the eye), should be monitored regularly to determine if any issues are developing.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Robert Nellis, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-9258, newsbureau@mayo.edu

The research was supported in part by Terrance and Judi Paul and by a grant from Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc.

Co-authors of the study include first author Gena Damento, B.S.H.S., Diva Salomao, M.D., Saranya Balasubramaniam, M.D., and senior author Jose Pulido, M.D., of Mayo Clinic; Shaheen Kavoussi, M.D., and Miguel Materin, M.D., of Yale University; and Polly Quiram, M.D., Ph.D., of Vitreo Retinal Surgery PA, Edina, Minnesota.


About Mayo Clinic Proceedings
Mayo Clinic Proceedings is a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal that publishes original articles and reviews dealing with clinical and laboratory medicine, clinical research, basic science research and clinical epidemiology. Proceedings is sponsored by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research as part of its commitment to physician education. It publishes submissions from authors worldwide. The journal has been published for more than 80 years and has a circulation of 130,000. Articles are available online at www.mayoclinicproceedings.org.