ME and CFS Medical Abnormalities – Cancer Risk


Following is a list of articles about cancer risk in ME and CFS.

Links to the more than 1,000 peer-reviewed journal articles are listed on the ME and CFS Medical Abnormalities page of this website.


Chang CM, Warren JL, Engels EA. Chronic fatigue syndrome and subsequent risk of cancer among elderly US adults. Cancer. 2012 Dec 1;118(23):5929-36. PMID: 22648858

CFS was associated with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Among NHL subtypes, CFS was associated with diffuse large B cell lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma, and B cell NHL not otherwise specified.  CFS was also associated, although not after multiple comparison adjustment, with cancers of the pancreas, kidney, breast, and oral cavity and pharynx.


Levine PH, Fears TR, Cummings P, Hoover RN. Cancer and a fatiguing illness in Northern Nevada–a causal hypothesis. Ann Epidemiol. 1998 May;8(4):245-9. PMID: 9590603

The authors investigated the possibility that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) predisposes to cancer by comparing the cancer pattern in an area in northern Nevada, where an outbreak of a fatiguing illness, which included cases of CFS, was reported, to an area in southern Nevada, where no such illness was reported. Higher incidences of NHL and primary brain tumors were noted in the two northern Nevada counties (Washoe and Lyon) in 1986 and 1987 respectively, compared to the southern Nevada (Clark) county.


Levine PH, Atherton M, Fears T, Hoover R. An approach to studies of cancer subsequent to clusters of chronic fatigue syndrome: use of data from the Nevada State Cancer Registry. Clin Infect Dis. 1994 Jan;18 Suppl 1:S49-53. PMID: 8148453

The authors consider whether the decreased natural killer cell function in CFS clusters may be related to brain/CNS tumors and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, finding a trend that merits future research.


Levine PH, Peterson D, McNamee FL, O’Brien K, Gridley G, Hagerty M, Brady J, Fears T, Atherton M, Hoover R. Does chronic fatigue syndrome predispose to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma? Cancer Res. 1992 Oct 1;52(19 Suppl):5516s-5518s; discussion 5518s-5521s. PMID: 1394166

The authors examined the prevalence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in epidemic areas for CFS.


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