Five-year malignancy incidence in patients with chronic pruritus: A population-based cohort study aimed at limiting unnecessary screening practices

Nicole Fett, Kevin Haynes, Kathleen Joy Propert, David J. Margolis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The incidence of malignancy in patients with chronic pruritus and nondiseased skin is unknown. Objective: We sought to assess the hazard ratio (HR) of incident overall malignancy and incident malignancy by subtype in patients with chronic pruritus during the 5 years after diagnosis. Methods: A population-based cohort study was performed in the Health Improvement Network. In all, 8744 patients with chronic pruritus were matched with 31,580 patients without chronic pruritus based on sex, age, and practice. Primary outcomes were HR of incident malignancy and HR of malignancy subtypes. Results: The fully adjusted HR for incident malignancy in patients with chronic pruritus was 1.14 (95% confidence interval 0.98-1.33). The fully adjusted HR for incident hematologic malignancy and incident bile duct malignancy in patients with chronic pruritus was 2.02 (95% confidence interval 1.48-2.75) and 3.73 (95% confidence interval 1.55-8.97), respectively. The incidence of hematologic malignancy and cholangiocarcinoma in patients with chronic pruritus was 0.0016 and 0.0003 per person-year, respectively. Limitations: Potential for misclassification and detection biases is a limitation. Conclusions: Chronic pruritus without concomitant skin changes is a risk factor for having undiagnosed hematologic and bile duct malignancies, but not other malignancies. The overall incidence of these malignancies in patients with chronic pruritus is very low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-658
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Volume70
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Keywords

  • chronic pruritus
  • generalized pruritus
  • itch
  • paraneoplastic signs
  • pruritus
  • skin signs of systemic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology

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