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Some Tumors Spread with Heart or Lung Transplants (Reuters)...For donors with a tumor involving the nervous system, or neurologic tumors,......No tumor transmission occurred with donors who had brain tumor types known as astrocytomas or glioblastomas,...- May 16 5:17 PM ET


Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)



Website: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010516/hl/transplants_1.html

Posted on: 05/16/2001

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Wednesday May 16 5:17 PM ET
"Some Tumors Spread with Heart or Lung Transplants" Some Tumors Spread with Heart or Lung Transplants

By Anthony Brown, MD

CHICAGO (Reuters Health) - A small new study suggests that about a third of patients who receive a heart and/or lung transplant from donors with certain types of cancer may develop the malignancy themselves.

The findings were presented here on Monday at a joint meeting of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.

In a study of 22 patients who received a heart or lung transplant from a donor with cancer, Dr. Joseph F. Buell and colleagues from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio found that eight, or 36%, developed cancer themselves.

"There really has been no data on cancer transmission in cardiothoracic transplant recipients," Buell told Reuters Health. "In the past, we have been very reluctant to use organs from donors with cancer. This study gives us defined risks and eliminates the generalized phobia of using organs from donors with malignancies," he stated. The findings may therefore provide some hope to those desperately seeking an organ from any source--even donors diagnosed with cancer.

The patients included 17 heart recipients, 3 lung recipients, and 2 people who received both heart and lungs.

Rates of cancer transmission appeared to vary depending on the type of malignancy. For donors with a tumor involving the nervous system, or neurologic tumors, the transmission rate was 17%. For non-nervous system tumors, the rate was 63%.

No tumor transmission occurred with donors who had brain tumor types known as astrocytomas or glioblastomas, but another nervous system cancer, medulloblastoma, did transfer to a recipient.

There were two cases in which a donor's kidney cancer was transmitted to recipients.

The two most aggressively transmitted types of cancer were choriocarcinoma and melanoma. Choriocarcinoma arises from fetal tissue, while melanoma is a relatively rare, but potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer.

Two thirds of patients who received a transplant from a donor with choriocarcinoma had evidence of cancer spread within 3 months of transplantation. The two patients who received a transplant from a donor with melanoma developed the disease themselves and died within 6 months of transplantation.

However, the stage of the donor's cancer can have a big impact on the risk of its spreading to the recipient. Buell explained that if a donor's kidney cancer is contained in the organ and has not spread to his or her blood vessels, it is unlikely to be transmitted to an organ recipient.

And the risk of spread of neurological tumors is small unless the donor has had certain surgical procedures, such as having a shunt placed to drain fluid or having the skull opened surgically, Buell added.

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