Chemotherapy – Is Lupus a Form of Cancer?!

I’ve decided to share this thread which I first shared on my Twitter timeline here because it seems like it is indeed a serious question.

When mum and I were in New Delhi, the night after my doctor said I’d have to start on a course of chemo, mum called my aunts back home and explained some of it to them, with my consent of course. My aunts were a little shocked. Later, one of my aunties admitted that she felt a little despair, ‘Our little girl went to India with a complex case of Lupus and now she has cancer?!’

Yes, I am still considered a little girl. And no, I do not have cancer. So, why the chemo? The question was echoed by a concerned lupus supporter whose friend has Lupus. She sent me a series of DMs trying to understand Lupus, but one question sort of stood so I asked her to allow me to answer it in a public space which I did on my Twitter timeline.

Q: You said last week that you will be going through chemotherapy for your Lupus? Does that mean Lupus is a form of Cancer? #AskaQuestion

A: No, Lupus is not a form of Cancer.

-Dr. Irene Blanco: “There’s a misconception that lupus is cancer because it deals with the immune system and abnormal cells.” While the same or similar chemotherapy drugs can be used to treat both cancer and lupus, the two conditions are NOT related.

-To understand why doctors would use Cancer-fighting drugs to control Lupus, you have to understand how Lupus works. I recommend this excellent little video which breaks down how #Lupus works from the cell outwards.

-But for now, simplest explanation is: Lupus is an autoimmune disease. Your body’s immune system turns against its own cells. Therefore, in managing #Lupus, a doctor’s goal is to reduce the activity of your immune system in your body.

-One of the side effects of cancer-fighting drugs is that they weaken the immune system. This side effect is the object of Lupus management.

-Doctors prescribe cancer-fighting drugs for #Lupus because they have few options to slow down an immune system gone haywire.

-In severe cases of #Lupus, doctors may use chemotherapy drugs more in line with how they are used in fighting cancer. In other cases, they will use much lower doses of the same drugs in pill form. The goal being to lower the activity of the immune system.

-In my case, I am on a combination of an injectable chemo drug, standard #Lupus meds in pill form & prescription supplements.

-I always say this, and I’ll say it again. #Lupus affects every single person differently. So MY treatment program will work, or not, for ME.

Some information on this article was sourced from

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