Changing immunosuppressants after transplant may reduce cancer risk
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
Recent research has shown that the risk of cancer is much higher for individuals dealing with chronic kidney disease. The American Journal of Kidney Diseases published this recent study, conducted at the University of Sydney and led by Dr. Germaine Wong.
While other studies have shown similar findings, this new research shows that patients with chronic kidney disease are also more likely to die from cancers — specifically, urinary tract cancer and breast cancer.
The cancer risk higher for patients dealing with any stage of chronic kidney disease, but other studies have shown that the risk of cancer increases after transplantation as well. Another recent study noted that the risk of skin cancer was especially high after patients received a kidney transplant, whether the organ came from a deceased or live organ donor.
In fact, studies show that as many as 70 percent of patients develop skin cancer within 20 years of a kidney transplant. These patients also have an increased risk of breast cancer, lymphoma and cervical cancer.
Unfortunately, transplant researchers and physicians feel that immunosuppressant medications may be the cause of the increased risk of cancer. After kidney transplantation occurs, patients are prescribed immunosuppressant drugs to help reduce problems with rejection. These medications help to keep the body from attacking the new organ, but they work by suppressing the immune system.
The suppression of the immune system puts patients at a higher risk for infections. The body's ability to fight off cancer cells is reduced, leading to a higher risk of cancer among these patients.
It is important to note that in some cases, the donor kidney could contribute to the increased risk of cancer among kidney transplant recipients. However, more research is necessary to find out if the donor kidney has a significant impact upon the risk of cancer for transplant patients.
Kidney transplant patients cannot go without immunosuppressant medications after transplantation, but some research supports the idea that changing the immunosuppressant drug used may help to reduce the risk of cancer among these patients. Some calcineurin inhibitors are thought to increase the occurrence of cancer, but changing a patient's immunosuppressant regimen to sirolimus may help to reduce the risk of cancer after transplantation, specifically skin cancer.
With studies continuing to show that cancer rates are high among kidney transplant patients, more transplant research must be done on the immunosuppressant medications used to treat transplant patients to find more ways to help reduce the risk of cancer among these patients.
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