Organ donor patients 'at higher risk of cancer'

2 November 2011

Patients who receive organ transplants are at a higher risk of developing a broad range of cancers, new research has shown.

Published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the research from a team at the National Cancer Institute, Rockville found that people who receive a solid organ donation, such as a kidney, lung or liver, have an increased cancer risk due to immunosuppression and oncogenic viral infections.

According to the study, organ recipients have a doubled chance of developing cancer compared to the general population.

Researchers said: "A better understanding of cancer risk in transplant recipients would help clarify the role of the immune system, infections and other factors in the development of malignancy, and could identify opportunities to improve transplant safety."

Figures from records in the US showed that in 2010 there were 28,664 transplants performed, including 16,899 kidney transplants, 6,291 liver transplants and 2,333 heart transplants.

The most common malignancies with elevated risk were non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which can start off in one lymph node and travel with the bloodstream to other organs.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Engels, Eric, et al., " Spectrum of Cancer Risk Among US Solid Organ Transplant Recipients", JAMA, November 2011.


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