There are many reports on the association between autoimmune diseases and neoplasia. Autoimmune phenomena and autoantibodies have been detected in patients with malignancies. Conversely, many autoimmune conditions are associated with increased incidence of malignant tumors. The association between autoimmune diseases and malignant tumors can be due to a common pathogenic factor inducing the diseases, due to triggering of malignant transformation by the autoimmune process or due to the treatment. Several lines of evidence demonstrate that both genetic factors and nongenetic factors associated with the autoimmune process contribute to the increased frequency of malignancies. This association supports the notion that the immune system is of prime importance in the natural defense against malignancies, and we believe that future research will lead to increased utilization of immunotherapy in malignant tumors.
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