People newly diagnosed with cancer, particularly haematological cancers, and those treated with chemotherapy, have an increased risk of developing herpes zoster (shingles), according to a new study in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The large prospective study examined the risk of shingles before and after a new cancer diagnosis and across a range of cancer types among 241,497 adults in Australia from 2006 to 2015.
Patients with haematological and solid tumour cancers had higher relative risks of shingles than those without cancer (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 3.74; 95% CI 3.11-4.51 and 1.30; 95% CI 1.21-1.40, respectively).
Compared to those without cancer, the risk was also elevated in the period prior to a haematological cancer diagnosis (aHR for 1-2 years prior 2.01; 95% CI 1.31-3.09), but this was not the case for solid cancers (aHR for 1-2 years prior 0.90; 95% CI 0.75-1.07).
Compared to those without cancer, shingles risk among patients with solid cancers receiving chemotherapy was greater than in those without a chemotherapy record (aHR 1.83; 95% CI 1.60-2.09 and 1.16; 95% CI 1.06-1.26, respectively).
The findings may help guide efforts to prevent shingles and related complications in cancer patients through the use of emerging inactive zoster vaccines.