In fact, some kidney recipients may face a three-fold higher risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Kaposi sarcoma due to the risk associated with immune suppression following transplant, according to researchers at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
Using a database of 28,855 patients with end-stage kidney disease who got transplants, the researchers found that the overall incidence of cancer -- excluding non-melanoma skin cancer and cancers commonly linked to end-stage kidney disease -- was "markedly increased" -- or 3.27 times higher -- after transplantation.
In comparison, cancer incidence went up only slightly during dialysis and before renal replacement therapy (RRT).
After transplantation, the patients got cancer at a "significantly increased" rate at 25 study sites, and that risk even exceeded three-fold at 18 of the sites, the team said.
"Although the incidence of some cancers was increased during dialysis, and the incidence of a few was increased before RRT, the magnitude and breadth of the increased risk after transplantation suggests that immune suppression causes a substantial and broad-ranging increase in cancer risk," the researchers said.
The team noted that it is uncertain whether the risk of other types of cancer is higher with transplants due to a lack of long-term, population-based studies.
The findings are published in the Dec. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.