Cancer commonly observed after liver transplants


NEW YORK — People who undergo liver transplantation, particularly children, are at increased risk for developing cancer, Finnish researchers report in the journal Liver Transplantation.

“On the basis of our data,” Dr. Fredrik Aberg, from the Helsinki University Central Hospital, and co-authors note, “1 of 6 liver transplant patients is estimated to develop some form of cancer by 20 years after transplantation.” Although post-transplant cancer are a recognized problem, “more studies are needed to obtain reliable data on cancer risk patterns in an attempt to reach consensus on optimal monitoring of (immune-suppressing drugs), cancer surveillance programs, and strategies to minimize cancer risk,” the authors maintain.

Their study included all 540 patients who received liver transplants at Aberg’s center between 1982 and 2005, linked with the nationwide Finnish Cancer Registry. During follow-up, 39 cancers developed in 36 patients, which translates into a 2.59-fold increased risk relative to that seen in the general population.