Organ transplant recipients in the United States have a high risk of developing 32 different types of cancer, according to a new study of transplant recipients which fully describes the range of malignancies that occur. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and their colleagues evaluated medical data from more than 175,700 transplant recipients, accounting for about 40 percent of all organ transplant recipients in the country. The results of this study appeared in the Nov. 2, 2011, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In 2010, a total of 28,664 organ transplants were performed in the U.S., including 16,899 kidney, 6,291 liver, 2,333 heart, and 1,770 lung transplants.
“While transplantation is a life-saving therapy for patients with end-stage organ disease, it also puts recipients at an increased risk for developing cancer, in part because of medications administered to suppress the immune system and prevent rejection of the organ. The cancer risk among transplant recipients resembles that of people with HIV infection, whose risk is elevated for infection-related cancers due to immunosuppression,” said lead author Eric A. Engels, M.D., in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, NCI. “A clearer understanding of the pattern of cancer risk associated with solid organ transplantation may help future patients have better, healthier outcomes.”