Myotonic muscular dystrophy (MMD) is an autosomal dominant multisystem neuromuscular disorder characterized by unstable nucleotide repeat expansions. Case reports have suggested that MMD patients may be at increased risk of malignancy, putative risks which have never been quantified.
To quantitatively evaluate cancer risk in patients with MMD, overall, and by sex and age.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We identified 1,658 patients with an MMD discharge diagnosis in the Swedish Inpatient Hospital or Danish Patient Discharge Registries between 1977 and 2008. We linked these patients to their corresponding cancer registry. Patients were followed from date of first MMD-related inpatient or outpatient contact, to first cancer diagnosis, death, emigration, or completion of cancer registration.
Main Outcome Measures
Risks of all cancers combined, and by anatomic site, stratified by sex and age.
104 patients with an inpatient or outpatient discharge diagnosis of MMD developed cancer during post-discharge follow-up. This corresponds to an observed cancer rate of 73.4/10,000 person-years in MMD versus an expected rate of 36.9/10,000 in the general Swedish and Danish populations combined (SIR =2.0, 95% CI =1.6–2.4). Specifically, we observed significant excess risks of cancers of the endometrium (observed rate=16.1/10,000 person-years: SIR=7.6, 95%CI=4.0–13.2), brain (observed rate=4.9/10,000 person-years: SIR=5.3, 95%CI=2.3–10.4), ovary (observed rate=10.3/10,000 person-years: SIR=5.2, 95% CI=2.3–10.2), and colon (observed rate=7.1/10,000 person-years: SIR=2.9, 95%CI=1.5–5.1). Cancer risks were similar in females and males after excluding genital organ tumors (SIR=1.9, 95% CI=1.4–2.5 vs. 1.8, 95% CI=1.3–2.5, respectively, p-heterogeneity=0.81; observed rates=64.5 and 47.7/10,000 person-years in women and men, respectively), The same pattern of cancer excess was observed first in the Swedish, and then in the Danish cohorts, which were studied sequentially and initially analyzed independently.
MMD patients identified from the Swedish and Danish patient registries were at increased risk of cancer both overall and for selected anatomic sites.