In solid-organ transplant recipients, the cancer death rate was higher than in the general population in a new study from Ontario, Canada, published online by JAMA Oncology. Nancy N. Baxter, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toronto, Canada, and coauthors determined cancer mortality in patients who underwent solid-organ transplantation in Ontario, Canada, over a 20-year period between 1991 and 2010.
The authors identified 11,061 solid-organ transplant recipients (SOTRs), including kidney, liver, heart and lung transplants, and 3,068 deaths, of which 603 were cancer-related. Study results suggest SOTRs were at increased risk of cancer death compared with the general population, regardless of age, sex, transplanted organ and transplant period. The risk remained higher even when patients with pretransplantation cancers were excluded from the study. "Despite the fact that SOTRs have shorter life expectancies and a higher risk of dying of non-cancer-related causes, these patients have an elevated risk of cancer death as compared with the general population. Addressing the cancer burden in SOTRs is critical to improving the survival of these patients," the authors conclude.
In a related editorial, Marianne Schmid, M.D., of University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, and coauthors write: "The provocative report by Acuna and colleagues raises several important questions, which remain unanswered. While it establishes an association between transplantation and cancer death, it does not provide an explanation for these findings."