Kidney transplant linked to some cancers

Dec. 19, 2006 at 4:01 PM
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SYDNEY, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- While kidney-disease patients face long, anxious waits for new kidneys, a new Australian study says transplant raises the risk of some cancers.

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.

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