Jan 07, 2016
By Michael Kramer
Patients who get liver, kidney and other organ transplants – are up to three times more likely to die from cancer – than the rest of us.
That’s the finding of a new study of more than 11,000 organ transplant recipients – which also discovered that almost one-fifth of the deaths in that group – over a twenty year period – were related to cancer.
And researchers found that children who received a new organ had a higher risk of dying from cancer – than transplant patients over age 60.
The lead researcher in the study is Dr. Nancy Baxter – a cancer surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital.
She says drugs used to suppress the immune system to prevent organ tissue rejection – are likely contributors to higher cancer rates – and a more aggressive onset of the disease.
Transplant patients were also found to have a 30 times higher risk of dying from skin cancer – than people in the general population.
Baxter says that’s why it’s critical for transplant patients to avoid exposure to the sun – and to have regular screening for melanoma.
The study is published in the medical journal JAMA Oncology