October 7, 2008

Liver Recipients at Higher Cancer Risk

Patients who have liver transplants are almost three times more likely to develop cancer, Finnish researchers say.

The study, published in Liver Transplantation, found that based on the data, one out of six liver transplant patients is estimated to develop some form of cancer 20 years after receiving a donor organ.

Helena Isoniemi and colleagues tracked all patients from Helsinki University Central Hospital who had liver transplants from 1982 to 2005. Of the 540 liver recipients, there were 39 cancers in 36 patients. The overall standardized incidence ratio compared to the general population was 2.59.

"The most common cancer types in our cohort were lymphoma and skin cancer," the study authors said in a statement. "Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which included four cases of post-transplant lymphoproliverative disorder, occurred more frequently in males, in patients transplanted at a younger age and soon after transplantation."

Non-melanoma skin cancer was more common among older patients and those who had antibody induction therapy, but there was a lower cancer incidence among patients with history of acute rejections.

"This study points out the importance of cancer surveillance after liver transplantation," Isoniemi said.