Liver Transplant Patients at Higher Cancer Risk

FRIDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Liver transplant patients have a higher incidence of cancer than the general population, say researchers in Finland.

In a new study published in the October issue of Liver Transplantation, researchers investigated the cancer risk pattern in 540 Finnish liver transplant recipients from Helsinki University Central Hospital. The patients were given transplants between 1982 and 2005.

Transplantation and the immunosuppression therapies that help prevent organ rejection have long been associated with an increased risk of cancer.

In this study, researchers used the Finnish Population Register and the National Cancer Registry to identify 39 post-transplant new cancers in 36 of the 540 liver transplant patients.

"The most common cancer types in our cohort were lymphoma and skin cancer," the study's authors wrote.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma was more common in males, in younger transplant patients, and soon after transplantation. Non-melanoma skin cancer, on the other hand, was more common among older patients and those who received antibody induction therapy.

Interestingly, there was a lower cancer risk among patients with a history of acute rejections.

"Based on our data, one out of six liver transplant patients is estimated to develop some form of cancer by 20 years after transplantation," according to the authors. "This study points out the importance of cancer surveillance after liver transplantation."

More information

The American Liver Foundation has more about liver transplantation.

SOURCE: Wiley-Blackwell, news release, Oct. 2, 2008

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