Friday November 9 5:23 PM ET
"Transplant Patients May Face Brain Tumor Risk"
Transplant Patients May Face Brain Tumor Risk
By Will Boggs, MD
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In rare cases, patients who
have had organ transplants may be more likely to develop a
certain type of brain tumor, according to a study by Pittsburgh
Though transplant recipients face a 100-fold increased risk
of developing cancer, Dr. David Schiff from the University of
Pittsburgh Medical Center and colleagues note, the brain
cancers--known as gliomas--had not previously been considered a
complication of organ transplantation.
The researchers reviewed information from three academic
medical centers to identify transplant patients with glioma.
They found 6 cases in approximately 6,700 patients who had
transplants at the centers between February 1991 and February
Three patients had kidney transplants, one had a heart
transplant, one a lung transplant and one a liver transplant.
All were receiving long-term immunosuppression at about the
time they were diagnosed with glioma.
This immune-suppressing treatment is one of the likeliest
reasons behind the development of gliomas in these patients,
the authors suggest in their report in the October 23rd issue
"We cannot exclude the possibility that this association
between glioma and organ transplantation is coincidental," they
write. "Our ongoing review of brain tumors in the Cincinnati
Tumor Transplant Registry may further elucidate this issue."
The findings are important, Schiff told Reuters Health,
because doctors often assume that any new brain tumor in a
transplant patient is caused by lymphoma, a blood cancer known
to be common in these patients.
"Our report highlights that it's not safe to assume all
brain tumors are lymphoma," Schiff said. Rather, he added,
these tumors should be biopsied so doctors can determine what
type they are and tailor treatment appropriately.
SOURCE: Neurology 2001;57:1486-1488.
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