Organ Transplant Recipients Have Higher Cancer Risk

Sep 2, 2009 by

Organ Transplant Recipients Have Higher Cancer Risk

Some relatively recent studies have shown organ transplant recipients, whose immune systems have to be suppressed to prevent them from rejecting the new organs, are at higher risk of getting cancer.

These studies are briefly described in the following article. While this information sounds rather ominous for organ transplant recipients, it could also serve as motivation for such persons to take additional precautions against the disease.

Four Studies: Increased Cancer Risk in Immunity-Suppressed Organ Transplant Recipients

by Reuben Chow

Organ transplants give many people a new shot at life, a second chance which they might not have had if not for this medical procedure. Life, though, is never quite the same again, and organ recipients have to take immunosuppressant drugs to keep their bodies from rejecting their new organs. By having their immune systems suppressed, however, organ recipients become more susceptible to various health conditions, including infections. Unfortunately, they are also a lot more vulnerable to developing cancer, as various studies have repeatedly shown, including four recent ones highlighted here.

1. Kidney Transplant Recipients and Melanoma

In 2005, a study conducted at the Penn State College of Medicine looked at the data of 89,786 kidney transplant recipients and compared it to the general population. Led by Christopher S. Hollenbeak, PhD, the study team found that kidney transplant recipients were 3.6 times more likely to get melanoma when compared with the general population. They also found that the risk continued to escalate with each passing year after transplant, at about 5% per year.

Published in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society, the study also revealed that men had higher risk than women, and that their risk increased with age. Blacks, on the other hand, were 7 times less likely to get the condition as compared to other races.

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