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Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patients May Have Greater Risk of Shingles

Study Reveals Having Any Cancer Type Increases Risk by 40 Percent

According to a study of around 240,000 patients with cancer in Australia, from 2006 to 2015, having any type of cancer increased the risk of developing shingles by 40%, compared with not having cancer. Also, patients with a solid tumor, in the lung, breast, prostate, or other organ, had a 30% greater risk of shingles than people without cancer.

The recent study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases showed that patients with a blood-related cancer are at greatest risk of developing the painful skin condition––more than three times that of people without cancer. The higher risk in patients with blood cancer was present during the two years before they received a cancer diagnosis.

However, among those patients with solid tumors, the elevated risk was mainly related to receiving chemotherapy rather than to the cancer itself, according to the researchers.

Each year, about one million cases of shingles occur in the U.S., and close to one-third of Americans will develop the illness, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A 2017 shingles vaccine approved for U.S. use does not use a live form of the virus and may be safe for people with weakened immune systems, including those receiving chemotherapy. But a lack of data means the vaccine is not yet recommended for use in that patient group. Currently, a shingles vaccine with an inactivated form of the virus is in development.

Source:, January 9, 2018

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