The medical world has just brought one of the worst news in medicine in recent history, as according to a paper published yesterday in JAMA Oncology revealed that organ recipients have an increased risk of cancer.
- Solid organ transplant recipients have an overall shorter life expectancy
- The study was observational, so no cause-effect relationship was determined
- It was published on the JAMA Oncology Network
- The study was based in Canada, at the University of Toronto
- 11,061 transplant patients were involved in the cancer study
The team of researchers used a sample of 11,061 cases of solid organ transplants that occurred between 1991 and 2010 as a baseline for the study. There were no exclusions based on the type of transplant, except for it having to be a solid organ.
From the 11,061 organ receivers, 6,516 had a kidney transplant, 2,606 had a liver transplant, and 929 received a new heart, while 705 received a new lung.
Further parameters of the study include the following – the average age of the transplant patients was 49, with 63.8% of the subjects being male and 36.2% female. Additionally, the only exclusions from the 11,061 transplant beneficiaries were 1,124 patients which suffered from pre-existing neoplasms.
Over the 9 years in which the patients received transplants, 3,068 of them died, 603 of them being related by the researchers to malignancies that occurred after the transplant.
This led the researchers to a disturbing fact – those patients that benefitted from a solid organ transfer were at significant risk not only of developing cancer, but also at an increased risk of dying from it.
Sadly, the study was only observational, with the researchers merely observing that there was a connection between the two, but since they didn’t interact with the patients directly, only consulting records, no actual cause of the increase in cancer risks were discerned.
Additionally, the researchers found the chances of dying from cancer were the highest for children, and the lowest for patients over 60.
This, coupled with the fact that 20% of patient deaths were related to cancer – a very high number for the rest of the Ontario population – led scientists to a relatively speculative conclusion.
The highest risk of death when confronted with cancer was present in transplant survivors because of the hesitation with which their treatment is usually approached.
The system of transplant receivers is usually functioning at below average capacity, leading to more risk of disease and also to a reticence from most medical teams to provide the strongest medical alternatives due to possible risks.
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