Treating cancer in people with lupus

Lupus Foundation of America

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Cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. Chemotherapy usually doesn’t cause any unique problems for people with lupus; in fact, chemotherapy exposure sometimes ends up reducing lupus disease activity. People with lupus who have surgery for cancer should be followed closely by their oncologist and their rheumatologist to monitor lupus activity. 

Anyone taking corticosteroids, such as prednisone, should talk to their doctors about adjusting the steroid dosage around the time of surgery, because steroids suppress the immune system and may allow infection to take place or impair healing of the wound. 

Anyone taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—particularly aspirin—should talk to their doctors about stopping these medications prior to surgery, as these drugs can thin the blood and lead to excess bleeding. The same is true for other blood-thinning drugs (such as warfarin) that a person with lupus may be taking.

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