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Frightening and Interesting, But More Study Needed
While studies by qualified experts can be most beneficial to determining direction for a cause or a cure, some early studies might be painful, but the knowledge gained from these studies can be incerdibly useful for future understanding of unexpected results. Let’s pray this study shows more positive results in the near future. Dr. Eric A. Engels explains: “”We wish to understand how medical conditions and individual immunosuppressive medications may contribute to cancer risk. In addition, we hope our findings will stimulate other research into the carcinogenic mechanisms associated with organ transplantation.” What do you think? How much credibility do you read into these types of studies?
Posted by Richard Weintraub Co-Founder, Wellspring Transplant Support Center.
Patients who have received a kidney or other solid organ transplant have an
overall cancer risk that is double that of the general population, with an
increased risk for many different types of malignancies, according to a recent
study. Researchers found that kidney cancer was the fourth most common cancer
among transplant recipients.
First author Eric A. Engels, MD, MPH, of the National Cancer Institute,
Rockville, MD, used linked data on solid organ transplant recipients from the
U.S. Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (1987-2008) and 13 state and
regional cancer registries to determine relative and absolute cancer risk in
transplant recipients compared with the general population.
The data included 175,732 transplants. Most of the included recipients were
male, and the median age at transplant was 47 years. The most common
transplanted organs were kidney, liver, heart, and lung. Transplant recipients
were linked to 10,656 malignancy diagnoses during follow-up, with analysis
indicating an overall doubling of cancer risk compared with the general
population, the researchers reported in JAMA (2011; 306:1891-901).
Risk was increased for 32 different malignancies, some related to known
infections and others unrelated to infection. The most common cancers among
transplant recipients were non-Hodgkin lymphoma (14.1% of all cancers in
transplant recipients), lung cancer (12.6%), liver cancer (8.7%), and kidney
cancer (7.1%). These malignancies comprised 43% of all cancer cases in
transplant recipients compared with 21% in the U.S. general population.
In the case of kidney cancer, researchers say there are multiple reasons for
an elevated risk of the malignancy in transplant recipients. Although kidney
transplant recipients have damaged kidneys, frequently including multiple kidney
cysts that can become cancerous, an elevated risk was also observed among
recipients of other organs. Therefore, the researchers suggest the risk for
kidney cancer could be partly due to exposure to immune-suppressive medications,
which may have direct carcinogenic effects.
“Future work from our group will focus on specific cancers that occur at
higher rates among solid organ transplant recipients,” Dr. Engels said. “We wish
to understand how medical conditions and individual immunosuppressive
medications may contribute to cancer risk. In addition, we hope our findings
will stimulate other research into the carcinogenic mechanisms associated with