Transplant Recipients at Higher Risk of Aggressive Form of LymphomaRecipients of solid organ transplants are about 14 times more likely than the general population to develop diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This finding and additional data from a comprehensive study of risk factors for this NHL subtype in transplant recipients were presented at the 2012 American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting .
Transplant recipients are known to be at increased risk for cancer, due in part to the immunosuppressive therapies they receive to prevent organ rejection. “NHL is one of the most common cancers diagnosed among transplant recipients, and there are many distinct histological types that are likely to have different causes,” explained the study’s senior investigator Dr. Lindsay Morton of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG). “Previous studies have looked at NHL, but have lacked the large number of patients or the detailed information needed to determine risk factors for NHL subtypes across all solid organ transplants.”
Dr. Todd Gibson of DCEG led the analysis using data from the Transplant Cancer Match Study, which links the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients with 14 population-based cancer registries. He and his colleagues identified 948 cases of DLBCL from among more than 175,000 transplant recipients. The risk of DLBCL was greater for younger transplant recipients, those who received a lung or pancreas transplant, and those who tested negative for the Epstein-Barr virus at the time of their transplant.
“Organ transplants are necessary and often life-saving treatments,” said Dr. Gibson. “But our work shows that these patients are at greatly increased risk for this particular subtype of lymphoma. We hope that our work can play a role in identifying the subgroup of people within the transplant population that is at greatest risk and can help inform efforts for surveillance and possibly prevention.”
Additional analyses are examining other risk factors for DLBCL in transplant recipients, including immunosuppressive medication use.