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Hydroxychloroquine and risk of development of cancers: a nationwide population-based cohort study

Authors Mao IC, Lin CY, Wu CL, Kor CT, Chang CC

Received 28 May 2018

Accepted for publication 27 June 2018

Published 20 August 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 1435—1443

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S175581

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Deyun Wang


I-Chieh Mao,1 Ching-Yeh Lin,2 Chia-Lin Wu,3,4 Chew-Teng Kor,5,6 Chia-Chu Chang3,7–9

1Division of Critical Care, Department of Internal Medicine, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua, Taiwan; 2Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua, Taiwan; 3Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua, Taiwan; 4Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan; 5Internal Medicine Research Center, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua, Taiwan; 6Graduate Institute of Statistics and Information Science, National Changhua University of Education, Changhua, Taiwan; 7Department of Internal Medicine, Kuang Tien General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan; 8School of Medicine, Chung-Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan; 9Department of Nutrition, Hungkuang University, Taichung, Taiwan

Background: Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), one of the disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, may lead to an inhibition of autophagy. Autophagy, an intracellular self-defense mechanism for the lysosomal degradation of cytoplasmic components such as damaged organelles, plays a role in protecting against neoplasm growth but is also vital for cancer cells due to an increased intracellular metabolic waste.
Methods: Taiwan National Health Insurance Database was subjected to analysis to investigate the effect of HCQ exposure on cancer risk in patients with autoimmune diseases. Cancer incidence between patients with or without at least 12-month HCQ use was compared by propensity score-matched landmark analysis. A total of 100,000 participants were enrolled, including 7,662 patients who were diagnosed with autoimmune diseases between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2012.
Results: After propensity score matching, HCQ user and nonuser groups consist of 1,933 patients with a mean follow-up time of 7.82 and 6.7 years, respectively. During the follow-up period, 93 HCQ users and 77 HCQ nonusers developed cancers. Meanwhile, Kaplan–Meier estimates showed no difference in the overall incidence of cancer between HCQ users and nonusers.
Conclusion: This propensity score-matched study of Taiwanese patients with autoimmune diseases suggested that HCQ exposure did not increase the cancer risk.

Keywords: hydroxychloroquine, autophagy, cancer, autoimmune diseases, propensity score

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