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Kidney Transplantation Increases Cancer Risk
Written by Jeanne Bohm, Ph.D.   
After kidney transplantation, some recipients may face a 3-fold increased risk of certain cancers, according to a study in the December 20 issue of JAMA

Immune suppression after organ transplantation is associated with a markedly increased risk of certain cancers including non-melanoma skin cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and Kaposi sarcoma.

Claire M. Vajdic, Ph.D., of the University of New South Wales, and colleagues compared the incidence of cancer in 28,855 patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) who received renal replacement therapy (RRT). Data ware collected for 5 years before RRT, during dialysis, and after transplantation. New cancers (1982-2003) were determined by record linkage between the Australia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry and the Australian National Cancer Statistics Clearing House.

The researchers found that the overall incidence of cancer, excluding other cancers known to cause end-stage kidney disease, was significantly increased (3.27 times) after transplantation compared to cancer incidence being only slightly increased (1.35 times) during dialysis and before RRT (1.16 times).

Researchers concluded the increased risk after transplantation suggests that immune suppression causes a substantial increase in cancer risk. The authors believe that the cancers may be of viral origin and suggest an important role of common viral infections in the etiology of cancers. 


JAMA Media Release

Cancer Incidence Before and After Kidney Transplantation. JAMA. 2006;296:2823-2831.

About the Author

Jeanne Bohm, Ph.D. is a cancer biologist by training, a medical writer and an experienced science educator.

The author has no financial relationship to any of the companies listed in the article.

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