Older patients with Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) may be at greater risk of developing certain cancers, a research team from the Mayo Clinic suggests. Their paper, presented during ARVO’s recent virtual meeting, specifically found that Fuchs’ patients aged 65 and older appear to have an increased chance of malignancies of the breast, cutaneous basal and squamous cells and ovaries. On the other hand, they also may have a decreased risk of lung and prostate cancers.

Genetics may play a role in these findings. It is unknown whether patients with FECD are at variable risk of systemic disease, but several other trinucleotide repeat expansion disorders, such as myotonic dystrophy type 1, are associated with increased cancer risk, the authors explained.

The investigation considered approximately 1.5 million beneficiaries in the Medicare Limited 5% Data Set who were 65 and older. Roughly 16,000 patients (about 1%) had an ICD code for FECD. The study included data from 2014 to 2016 and compared cancer risk between those with FECD and those without the condition.

Considering the intensity of medical care between groups, the investigators also factored in diabetes and cardiovascular disease, in addition to adjusting for age, sex, race and tobacco use.

The researchers believe additional studies are needed to confirm this association, further explain potential disease mechanisms and identify genetic and environmental risk factors.

Xu TT, Baratz KH, Fautsch MP, et al. Cancer risk in patients with Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy. ARVO 2021 annual conference.