Solid organ transplant recipients have elevated cancer risk due to immunosuppression and oncogenic viral infections. Since most prior research has concerned kidney recipients, large studies that include recipients of differing organs can inform cancer etiology.
Describe the overall pattern of cancer among solid organ transplant recipients.
Cohort study using linked data from the U.S. Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (1987–2008) and 13 state/regional cancer registries.
Participants and Setting
Solid organ transplant recipients in the U.S.
Main Outcome Measure
Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) and excess absolute risks (EARs) assessing relative and absolute cancer risk in transplant recipients compared to the general population.
Registry linkages yielded data on 175,732 solid organ transplants (58.4% kidney, 21.6% liver, 10.0% heart, 4.0% lung). Overall cancer risk was elevated (N=10,656 cases, incidence 1374.7 per 100,000 person-years; SIR 2.10, 95%CI 2.06–2.14; EAR 719.3, 95%CI 693.3–745.6, per 100,000 person-years). Risk was increased (p<0.001) for 32 different malignancies, some related to known infections (e.g., anal cancer, Kaposi sarcoma) and others unrelated (e.g., melanoma, thyroid and lip cancers). The most common malignancies with elevated risk were non-Hodgkin lymphoma (N=1504, incidence 194.0; SIR 7.54, 95%CI 7.17–7.93; EAR 168.3, 95%CI 158.6–178.4) and cancers of the lung (N=1344, incidence 173.4; SIR 1.97, 95%CI 1.86–2.08; EAR 85.3, 95%CI 76.2–94.8), liver (N=930, incidence 120.0; SIR 11.56, 95%CI 10.83–12.33; EAR 109.6, 95%CI 102.0–117.6), and kidney (N=752, incidence 97.0; SIR 4.65, 95%CI 4.32–4.99; EAR 76.1, 95%CI 69.3–83.3). Lung cancer risk was most elevated in lung recipients (SIR 6.13, 95%CI 5.18–7.21) but also increased among other recipients (SIR 1.46, 95%CI 1.34–1.59 for kidney; 1.95, 1.74–2.19 for liver; 2.67, 2.40–2.95 for heart). Liver cancer was elevated only among liver recipients (SIR 43.83, 95%CI 40.90–46.91), who manifested exceptional risk in the first 6 months (SIR 508.97, 95%CI 474.16–545.66) and continuing two-fold excess for 10–15 years (SIR 2.22, 95%CI 1.57–3.04). Among kidney recipients, kidney cancer was elevated (SIR 6.66, 95%CI 6.12–7.23) and bimodal in onset. Kidney cancer was also increased in liver and heart recipients (SIR 1.80, 95%CI 1.40–2.29, and 2.90, 2.32–3.59, respectively).
Recipients of a kidney, liver, heart, or lung transplant have an increased risk for diverse infection-related and unrelated cancers, compared with the general population.