Q:

What is the correlation between an elevated sedimentation rate and cancer?

A:

Quick Answer

Certain types of cancers, such as multiple myeloma or lymphoma, cause an elevated sedimentation rate, according to MedlinePlus. Doctors may use a sedimentation rate test to monitor cancer. However, an elevated sedimentation rate is only a screening test and does not provide a cancer diagnosis.

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Full Answer

Research ties elevated sedimentation rates with poor cancer prognosis, notes the American Family Physician. Advanced gastric carcinoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and renal cell carcinoma all produce increased sedimentation rates. Doctors also use elevated sedimentation rates as an early indicator of a relapse for Hodgkin's disease.

An elevated sedimentation rate greater than 100 millimeters per hour combined with a solid tumor suggests that the cancer spread from the primary site to another part of the body, according to American Family Physician. However, doctors use more exact diagnostic testing to determine the definite prognosis and progression of cancer.

Increased sedimentation rates are sometimes the result of pregnancy, kidney disease, thyroid disease and anemia, notes MedlinePlus. Common autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, produce elevated sedimentation rates. Sometimes infections of the heart valve, heart, bone or skin cause an increased sedimentation rate. Other serious infections, such as rheumatic fever, systemic infections and tuberculosis, also cause this result. Necrotizing vasculitis, hyperfibrinogenemia and allergic vasculitis, which are less common autoimmune disorders, produce very high sedimentation rates.

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