A systematic review of the incidence and prevalence of cancer in multiple sclerosis

Ruth Ann Marrie, Nadia Reider, Jeffrey Cohen, Olaf Stuve, Maria Trojano, Per Soelberg Sorensen, Stephen C. Reingold, Gary Cutter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Background: Studies of cancer incidence and prevalence in multiple sclerosis (MS) have produced conflicting results. Objective: To estimate the incidence and prevalence of cancer in persons with MS and review the quality of included studies. Methods: We searched the PUBMED, SCOPUS, Web of Knowledge, and EMBASE databases, conference proceedings, and reference lists of all articles retrieved. Abstracts were screened for relevance by two reviewers. Data from included articles were captured using a standardized form, and the abstraction was verified by a second reviewer. We assessed quality of the included studies. We quantitatively assessed studies using the I2 statistic, and conducted meta-analyses for population-based studies. Results: We identified 38 studies. Estimates for incidence and prevalence varied substantially for most cancers. In population-based studies, cervical, breast, and digestive cancers had the highest incidence. The risk of meningiomas and urinary system cancers appeared higher than expected, while the risks of pancreatic, ovarian, prostate and testicular cancer were lower than expected. Conclusion: The complexity of understanding cancer risk in MS is augmented by inconsistencies in study design, and the relative paucity of age, sex and ethnicity-specific risk estimates from which the strong impact of age on the incidence of cancers can be assessed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-304
Number of pages11
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2015


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • cancer
  • comorbidity
  • incidence
  • prevalence
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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