Coexistence of Sarcoidosis and Malignancy

LTC (ret) William E. Caras, MD, FCCP, COL (ret) Thomas Dillard, MD, FCCP, LTC Thomas Baker, MD, COL (ret) Jerry Pluss, MD, FCCP


South Med J. 2003;96(9) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

In 1974, Brincker and Wilbek noted a statistically significant increase of malignant tumors among sarcoid patients and speculated that immunologic deficiencies stemming from sarcoidosis may predispose such patients to malignancy. In this article, we describe three additional cases of sarcoidosis and coexisting malignancy. The temporal presentation, radiographic features, and histologic findings are discussed in detail. The evidence for and against a proposed link between sarcoid and malignancy is reviewed.

The coexistence of sarcoidosis and malignancy has been noted for nearly three decades. In 1974, Brincker and Wilbek[1] noted that malignancy occurred in 48 of 2,544 patients enrolled in the Danish sarcoid registry from 1962 to 1971. On the basis of an expected age- and sex-specific incidence of only 33, Brincker and Wilbek concluded that there was an excess number of malignancies in the sarcoid patients. When analyzed further, this higher incidence could be attributed to an increased number of lung cancers and malignant lymphomas. Since then, multiple investigators have reported various observational and epidemiologic studies that suggest a link between sarcoidosis and malignancy. Moreover, the proposed link has been extended to a wide variety of lymphoreticular and solid organ neoplasms.[2,3,4,5] In this article, we report three additional cases of malignancy that occurred in the setting of biopsy-proved sarcoidosis.


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