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Risk factors for lung cancer in patients with scleroderma: a nested case–control study
  1. Eliza K Pontifex1,
  2. Catherine L Hill2,
  3. Peter Roberts-Thomson1
  1. 1Department of Immunology, Allergy and Arthritis, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia
  2. 2Rheumatology Unit, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville Rd, Woodville, South Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr C L Hill
    Rheumatology Unit, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville Road, Woodville 5011, South Australia, Australia; catherine.hill{at}


Objectives: To study potential risk factors for the development of lung cancer in patients with scleroderma and explore the chronological relationship between onset of scleroderma symptoms and subtypes of lung cancer.

Method: Linkage of two population-based registers to identify lung cancer cases and gender-matched controls with scleroderma, followed by retrospective case note review for clinical details.

Results: Patients with scleroderma who smoke are seven times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers (p = 0.008). Smokers with scleroderma and cancer smoke more than smokers with scleroderma without cancer (p = 0.019). Pulmonary fibrosis and anti-topoisomerase antibody do not increase the risk of lung cancer. Peripheral lung tumours occur earlier after the onset of scleroderma symptoms than bronchogenic tumours (p = 0.05).

Conclusions: Smokers with scleroderma should be monitored for the presence of lung cancer and counselled to quit smoking. The earlier development of peripheral lung tumours is not consistent, with pulmonary fibrosis being an aetiological factor.

  • SASR, South Australian Scleroderma Registry
  • SACR, South Australian Cancer Registry
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  • Published Online First 19 September 2006

  • Competing interests: None.

  • The use of the SASR for studies such as this has the approval of ethics committees of all teaching hospitals in South Australia, and all patients with scleroderma are mailed a request to enrol on the confidential register.

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