Disease modifying therapies raise risk of precancerous growths in over 45s

The use of certain disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) increases the risk of precancerous growths in those over 45, a new scientific analysis has found.

The researchers however failed to find an increased risk for infection for older people taking DMTs.

DMTs have been shown to be effective in reducing the number and severity of relapses, as well as slowing MS progression, but age is always a factor for medics when prescribing because ageing is associated with an increasing number of comorbidities and the deterioration of the immune system.

Because DMTs influence the immune system, people taking them have less ability to tackle abnormal cell growth that can go on to become cancer.

Scientists looked at 45 studies which met their criteria. The DMTs in them were divided into three types – sequestrating, immunomodulatory, and depletive. A final analysis found that the rate of abnormal cell growth becomes relevant above the age of 45 years in participants treated with depletive DMT agents rather than immunomodulatory or sequestrating ones.

The research team say, “The findings suggest caution when treating patients older than 45 years of age with depletive agents,” and “may help neurologists through the decision-making process for MS treatment.”