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Malignancy in dermatomyositis and polymyositis

Marc L Miller, MD
Section Editors
Ira N Targoff, MD
Jeremy M Shefner, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Monica Ramirez Curtis, MD, MPH


Dermatomyositis (DM) and polymyositis (PM) are idiopathic inflammatory myopathies characterized by proximal skeletal muscle weakness and evidence of muscle inflammation. DM, unlike PM, is characterized by the presence of various cutaneous manifestations. DM and PM may also be associated with inflammatory arthritis, interstitial lung disease, Raynaud phenomenon, and the presence of autoantibodies.

An association between inflammatory myopathy and cancer has been recognized since the report of two cases of PM and gastric cancer in 1916 [1]. The association is stronger for patients with DM than PM. The evidence for an association between cancer and inflammatory myopathy includes:

Epidemiologic evidence from large population studies

Temporal relationship between the diagnosis of cancer and myopathy

The improvement or resolution of myopathy after treatment of the cancer

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 25, 2017.
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