The impact of rheumatological disorders on lymphomas and myeloma: a report on risk and survival from the UK's population-based Haematological Malignancy Research Network

Eleanor Kane*, Daniel Painter, Alexandra Smith, Simon Crouch, Steven Oliver, Russell Patmore, Eve Roman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Autoimmune inflammatory disease increases the risk of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and marginal zone lymphoma (MZL), but findings for other mature B-cell malignancies are equivocal. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the increase in DLBCL is due to the activated B-cell (ABC) subtype; but data on this, and the impact of inflammatory co-morbidities on survival, are sparse and contradictory. Methods: Data are from an established UK population-based cohort. Patients (n = 6834) diagnosed between 01/2009 and 08/2015 are included; DLBCL (n = 1771), myeloma (n = 1760), chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL, n = 1580), MZL (n = 936), and follicular lymphoma (FL, n = 787). Information on rheumatological disorders and deaths was obtained by record-linkage to nationally compiled Hospital Episode Statistics, with age-and sex-matched individuals (n = 68,340) from the same catchment population (˜4 million people) providing the comparator. Results: Significantly increased risks for DLBCL (OR = 2.3, 95% CI 1.8–2.8) and MZL (OR = 2.0, 95% CI 1.5–2.7) were found for those with rheumatological disorders; the site distribution of those with/without rheumatological conditions differing for DLBCL (p = 0.007) and MZL (p = 0.002). No increases in risk were observed for the remaining mature B-cell malignancies, and no associations with survival were detected for DLBCL (age-adjusted HR = 1.2, 95% CI 0.9–1.6) or MZL (age-adjusted HR = 1.0, 95% CI 0.6–1.9). Furthermore, whilst our findings provide evidence for an association with rheumatological disease severity for DLBCL, they offer little support for the notion that the association is driven by an increase in the incidence of the ABC subtype. Conclusion: Our findings support the hypothesis that the chronic activation and proliferation of specific B-cell populations which characterize autoimmune disease increase the potential for the lymphomagenic events that lead to DLBCL and MZL in both males and females; but have no impact on the development of CLL, FL or MM, or on survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-243
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors


  • Autoimmune disease
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • Follicular lymphoma
  • Marginal zone lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Cite this