The Risk and Predictors of Malignancies in Ankylosing Spondylitis Patients in Israel—A Retrospective Electronic Data-Based Study

Polina Kagan, Noy Horesh, Howard Amital, Avishai M. Tsur, Abdulla Watad, Arnon D. Cohen, Niv Ben-Shabat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Previous studies demonstrated unclear and vast variability in the association between Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and the risk of cancer. Objectives: To assess the risk of overall and site-specific malignancies for AS patients in Israel, while examining the role of comorbidities and immunomodulatory therapy. Methods: We conducted a retrospective electronic data-based study including all AS patients diagnosed between 2002 and 2018, with no history of cancer prior to enrollment, with 5:1 ratio matched-control by age, gender, and place of residence. The odds Ratios (OR) for site-specific malignancies, comparing AS patients and controls, were calculated using logistic regression. Risk factors for malignancies within the AS cohort were evaluated in the same manner. Results: This study comprised 5825 AS patients and 28,356 matched controls. There was a higher overall risk of cancer in AS patients compared to controls (OR = 1.4, 95% CI 1.24–1.6), specifically for solid malignancies (OR = 1.5, 95% CI 1.3–1.7), CNS (OR = 3.72, 95% CI 1.29–10.7), kidney (OR = 2.06, 95% CI 1.12–3.8), and malignancy of unknown primary (OR = 3.06, 95% CI 2.35–3.98). Regarding predictors for malignancy within AS patients, older age at diagnosis (OR = 1.31, 95%,CI 1.25–2.36), diabetes (OR = 1.52, 95% CI 1.18–1.97), IBD (OR = 2.61, 95% CI 1.75–3.89), and treatment with DMARDs (OR = 2.17, 95% CI 1.65–2.83) were associated with a higher risk of solid malignancies, while NSAIDs treatment alone had a protective effect for solid malignancies (OR = 0.78, 95% CI 0.61–0.99). No significant association was found between anti-TNF therapy and the risk of solid or hematologic malignancies within the AS group. Conclusion: AS is associated with an increased risk of overall and site-specific malignancies, with independently higher risk for older age, comorbidity of DM, IBD, and treatment with DMARDs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5153
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • DMARDs
  • NSAIDs
  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • anti-TNF
  • cancer
  • malignancy
  • spondyloarthropathy


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