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Increased Death Risk For Solid Organ Transplant Recipients

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Those who receive solid organ transplants exhibit a risk of dying from cancer that is 2.84 times greater than the general population’s, according to the findings of a new study.

The study, which was published on January 7 in the journal JAMA Oncology, is the largest population-based study to examine the cancer mortality rates of post-transplant patients who have undergone solid organ transplants.

While the upside derived from the research is that solid organ transplant recipients (SOTRs) are living longer as a result of advances in immunosuppression, which allows for a reduction in the activation or efficacy of the body’s own immune system. But it is from their increased longevity that new problems arise — new problems such as the documented increase in cancer mortality risk among recipients.

Nancy N. Baxter, MD, PhD, a corresponding author of the new study and a general surgeon with the Toronto based St. Michael’s Hospital, echoed this point as she told Medscape Medical News that “SOTRs are doing well with their transplants and living longer” in light of advances in immunosuppression, but “other issues” are becoming apparent.

With advances in immunosuppression, SOTRs are doing well with their transplants and living longer. However, other issues are emerging

According to Dr. Baxter, the study’s lead researcher, the study shows death from cancer to be the second most common cause of death among recipients of solid organ transplants.

Our study shows that cancer mortality is the second most common cause of death in SOTRs

While the overall cancer mortality risk for SOTRs is nearly three fold that of the general population, the risk for SOTRs who have never been afflicted with cancer is nearly two fold the general population’s.

Baxter, who is chief of general surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital, was quoted by HealthDay as having said that her colleagues and her “found there was an increased risk of death from almost every cancer” across all age groups.

We found there was an increased risk of death from almost every cancer […] That was in all age groups, but more for younger individuals than older individuals. It seems that cancer is a real burden for transplant patients.

The leading cause of death for SOTRs is heart disease.

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