Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Organ Transplant Recipients Twice as Likely to Develop Cancer, At Increased Risk of Developing 32 Types of Cancer

A study of more than 175,000 transplant recipients reveals their significantly increased risk of developing cancer, according to a study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, that was published in the November 2, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A news release issued by NCI stated, "Organ transplant recipients in the United States have a high risk of developing 32 different types of cancer, according to a new study of transplant recipients which fully describes the range of malignancies that occur."

Researchers discovered that the most common cancers among transplant recipients were non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer, liver cancer and kidney cancer. Of particular interest to me was the following finding:
The risk of liver cancer was elevated only among liver recipients. Studies of cancer show, in this group, the occurrence of liver cancer can be partly attributed to recurrent hepatitis B or C infection in the transplanted liver, or to diabetes mellitus, which is also common among transplant recipients.
Organ transplants save lives, but there are numerous risks and challenges: Hypertension, diabetes (I was taking medication for these conditions almost immediately after my transplant), skin cancer (and 31 other types of cancer, according to this study), and much more. It's a lot to take on and for me, well worth it. But there's no denying organ transplants aren't for the faint of heart.

Photo by Johany López