Cancer Survivors Who Receive an Organ Transplant Have Higher Mortality Rates

Organ recipients with a history of cancer were 1.5 times more likely to die early from any cause compared with organ recipients without history of cancer.

A new study found that cancer survivors who receive an organ transplants have higher rates of mortality and developing new cancers.

Although prior research demonstrated an increased risk of cancer recurrence after a cancer survivor receives a transplant, the new study found the risk of death and developing a new cancer are inconsistent.

The study published in Transplantation involved a meta-analysis of 33 cohort studies, with 400,000 patients in 12 different countries.

After the data was analyzed, researchers found that organ recipients with a history of cancer were 1.5 times more likely to die early from any cause compared with recipients without previous cancer. Patients with a history of cancer were almost twice as likely to develop a new cancer and were face a 3 times greater risk of mortality from cancer.

The increased risk of developing a new cancer and death did not vary according to the type of organ that was transplanted.

This new paper did not examine whether the increased risk of new cancer and death was associated with the characteristics of the organ donors or other factors, such as the type of immunosuppressant drug, according to the study.

Other studies have found that patients with a history of cancer who received a transplant were more likely to receive an organ from “expanded criteria donors,” who are older donors who could have had a medical condition such as high blood pressure or died from a stroke.

These factors were found to be associated with deaths from heart attack or stroke and organ rejection.

More research needs to be conducted to determine the duration between when a patient was considered to be in remission or cured before they could receive a transplant. This is to help minimize the risk of recurrence without increasing the risk of death from other causes, the study noted.

Senior study author Nancy Baxter said transplant patients with a history of cancer may need closer monitoring to detect cancer recurrence and the development of new cancers early.