Organ Transplant May Double Cancer Risk
A new study shows that organ transplant patients double their risk of developing 32 different types of cancer compared to the rest of the population. Originally reported by HealthDay News, the study from the U.S. National Cancer Institute shows that while cancer risk is heightened by receiving a transplanted organ, benefits of the procedure far outweigh the risk.
“People need to understand that transplantation is one of the great success stories of medicine,” explained lead author Eric Engels, senior investigator with the Cancer Institute. “It’s a very effective treatment for people with severe organ disease.”
Nevertheless, the study “is saying that this population has a unique pattern of cancer risk. Transplant recipients need to be carefully screened and followed,” Engels added.
The risk comes from the immune system-suppressing medications given to transplant patients that prevent the new organ from being rejected by the body. While suppressing the immune system allows for the new organ to adapt, it also increases the risk of cancer.
According to Dr. Darla Granger, director of the pancreatic transplantation program at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, the medication puts the patient in a “catch-22 situation.”