Increased risk of tumor in DM1 is not related to exposure to common lifestyle risk factors

Maria Laura Ester Bianchi, Emanuele Leoncini, Marcella Masciullo, Anna Modoni, Shahinaz M. Gadalla, Roberto Massa, Emanuele Rastelli, Chiara Terracciano, Giovanni Antonini, Elisabetta Bucci, Antonio Petrucci, Sandro Costanzi, Massimo Santoro, Stefania Boccia, Gabriella Silvestri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent studies documented an increased risk of neoplasm in patients with myotonic dystrophies (DM). Yet, none of these studies evaluated the contribution of common cancer risk factors in such observation. In this study, we included a cohort of patients (n = 255) with an established molecular diagnosis of DM type 1 (DM1), and who receives their treatment in one of the four centers with recognized expertise in neuromuscular disorders in Rome. We estimated the prevalence of benign and malignant tumors, and assessed if lifestyle factors and/or specific disease features would be associated to their occurrence. Overall, 59 benign tumors in 54 patients and 19 malignant tumors in 17 patients were diagnosed. The most common malignant neoplasms were cancers of the skin (31.6 %), thyroid (21.0 %), ovary (10.5 %), and breast (10.5 %). Uterine fibroid was the most common benign tumor (37.6 %) in women, while pilomatricoma was the most common in men (28.6 %). Age at enrollment (OR = 1.02, 95 % CI 1.00–1.05), and female gender (OR = 5.71, 95 % CI 2.90–11.22) were associated with tumor development in DM1 patients, while thyroid disorders was associated with malignant tumors only in women (OR = 5.12, 95 % CI 1.35–19.37). There was no association between tumor development and evaluated lifestyle factors. In conclusion, the lack of association between common cancer risk factors and tumor development in DM1 support a pathogenic link between tumors and DM1 itself, emphasizing the need for a systematic surveillance. Our observation of an association between thyroid diseases in women and cancer development needs confirmation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-498
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Cancer
  • Myotonic dystrophy type 1
  • Risk factors
  • Thyroid disease
  • Tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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