Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Funded Research

Cancer in Multiple Sclerosis: Diagnosis and Outcomes

Year Awarded: 2019

Term: 3 years

Funding Amount: $233,480

Affiliation(s): University of Manitoba

Province(s): Manitoba

Researcher(s): Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie

Impact Goal(s): Enhance Well-being, Advance Treatment and Care

Summary: People with MS often have co-existing health conditions such as cancer. Cancer is the most common cause of death in people with MS after MS itself. Cancers of the breast, colon and rectum are among the most common cancers that affect Canadians, however we do not know very much about how often people with MS develop these cancers. This study aims to understand how often people with MS develop breast or colorectal cancer and whether they are at a higher risk. This study will also examine the cancer care pathway experienced by people with MS from screening, diagnosis to survival rates.

Project Description: Comorbidities (or co-existing conditions) are common in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). While a growing body of research reports the effects of comorbidities on MS-related outcomes, much less is known about the effects of MS on the outcomes of comorbid conditions such as cancer. This research will use health information collected from Manitoba and Ontario to examine the incidence of two common cancers, breast cancer and colorectal cancer among those living with MS. It also aims to understand the cancer care path, including whether there are diagnostic delays for those living with MS. It will also examine cancer stage at diagnosis and survival after diagnosis for people with MS as compared to people without MS.

Potential Impact:  There will be key learnings from this work to better inform treatment and care. For example, women with MS report it can be hard to get regular cancer screening. If we learn that cancer is more common in MS, this will mean that cancer prevention should be a high priority in the treatment of MS. This may also mean that people with MS should get screening tests for cancer more often. If there are delays for people with MS getting a cancer diagnosis, this will mean that changes in cancer care throughout the diagnostic period are needed. If people with MS have different survival after their cancer diagnosis, it may mean that further research around cancer treatment and MS is needed. 

Project Status: In progress

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