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Title: Is herpes zoster a marker for occult or subsequent malignancy?
Authors: Buntinx, F
Wachana, R
Bartholomeeusen, Stefaan
Sweldens, K
GEYS, Helena 
Issue Date: 2005
Source: BRITISH JOURNAL OF GENERAL PRACTICE, 55(511). p. 102-107
Abstract: Background It has been suggested that herpes zoster may be a marker for occult malignancy. Aim To examine the emergence of a subsequent cancer diagnosis in patients with and without herpes zoster. Design of study Retrospective cohort study. Setting Results were based on the database of Intego, an ongoing Belgian general practice-based morbidity registry, covering 37 general practitioners and including about 311 000 patient years between the years 1994 and 2000. Method Survival analysis comparing the emergence of malignancy in patients with and without herpes zoster. Results The number of patients below the age of 65 years with herpes zoster, cancer or both was too low to draw any sensible conclusions. Above the age of 65 years we identified a significant increase of cancer emergence in the whole group and in females (hazard ratio = 2.65, 95% confidence interval = 1.43 to 4.90), but not in males. No difference could be identified in the first year after the herpes zoster infection. Conclusion Our results do not justify extensive testing for cancer in herpes zoster patients. The association we identified, however, leaves open a number of questions with respect to the physiopathology behind it.
Notes: Univ Leuven, Dept Gen Practice, B-3000 Louvain, Belgium. Univ Maastricht, Inst Res, Maastricht, Netherlands. Limburgs Univ Ctr, Ctr Stat, Diepenbeek, Belgium. Med Ctr Hurarten, Louvain, Belgium.Buntinx, F, Univ Leuven, Dept Gen Practice, Kapucijnenvoer 33,Blok J, B-3000 Louvain,
Keywords: cohort studies; herpes zoster; neoplasm; survival analysis
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ISSN: 0960-1643
e-ISSN: 1478-5242
ISI #: 000227990000007
Category: A1
Type: Journal Contribution
Validations: ecoom 2006
Appears in Collections:Research publications

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