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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Risk of Active Tuberculosis Higher After Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer patients—especially those with cancers of the aerodigestive tract and hematological and tobacco-related cancers—are at increased risk of active tuberculosis, with elevated rates among those receiving radiotherapy or cytotoxic drugs, according to a new Denmark-based study co-authored by Boston University School of Public Health researchers.

The findings, published in the Journal of Infection, lend support to the theory that cancer is a clinical predictor for increased risk of active tuberculosis (TB), probably due to decreased infection barriers, immunosuppression, and shared risk factors.

“Our nationwide population-based cohort study provides strong evidence that cancer is associated with increased risk of active TB,” the study says. “While risk of TB was highest in the period immediately before and after a cancer diagnosis, it remained elevated beyond five years of follow-up.”

The research team, from BU and Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, used data on cancer diagnoses from the Danish Cancer Registry from 2004 to 2013 and on active TB, during the same years, from the Danish National Patient Registry.

Co-authors on the study include Dr. Robert Horsburgh, professor of epidemiology at BU; and Dr. Henrik Sorensen, adjunct professor of epidemiology at BU.

To read more about the study, go to: