Autoimmune diseases as comorbidities for liver, gallbladder, and biliary duct cancers in Sweden

Kari Hemminki, Kristina Sundquist, Jan Sundquist, Asta Försti, Vaclav Liska, Akseli Hemminki, Xinjun Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Autoimmune diseases are associated with many cancers but there is a lack of population-based studies with different autoimmune diseases that have a long follow-up. This is also true of hepatobiliary cancers, which include hepatocellular cancer (HCC) and rarer entities of gallbladder cancer (GBC), intra- and extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA and eCCA), and ampullary cancer. Methods: Diagnostic data on 43 autoimmune diseases were collected from the Swedish Inpatient Register from 1987 to 2018, and cancer data were derived from the national cancer registry from 1997 onward. Relative risks were expressed as standardized incidence ratios (SIRs). Results: In a population of 13.6 million, 1.1 million autoimmune diseases were diagnosed and subsequent hepatobiliary cancer was diagnosed in 3191 patients (17.2% of cancers). SIRs for HCC were 2.73 (men) and 2.86 (women), 3.74/1.96 for iCCA, 2.65/1.37 for GBC, 2.38/1.64 for eCCA, and 1.80/1.85 for ampullary cancer. Significant associations between autoimmune disease and HCC were observed for 13 autoimmune diseases, with the highest risks being for autoimmune hepatitis (48.92/73.53, men/women) and primary biliary cirrhosis (38.03/54.48). GBC was increased after six autoimmune diseases, with high SIRs for ulcerative colitis (12.22/3.24) and men with Crohn disease (9.16). These autoimmune diseases were also associated with a high risk of iCCA, which had seven other associations, and eCCA, which had five other associations. Ampullary cancer occurrence was increased after four autoimmune diseases. Conclusion: An autoimmune disease is a common precursor condition for hepatobiliary cancers. This calls for careful control of autoimmune disease symptoms in each patient and encouragement to practice a healthy lifestyle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1227-1236
Number of pages10
Issue number8
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2023


  • comorbidity
  • discharge data
  • hepatocellular cancer
  • immune disturbance
  • risk factor


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