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Jan 10, 2016 02:13 AM EST

Cancer deaths higher after organ transplant, study says

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A new study reveals that solid organ transplant recipients (SOTRs) are at a higher risk for dying from cancer, Latinos Health reported.

The researchers said that transplant patients are not able to receive effective cancer treatments because their immune systems are suppressed to prevent the rejection of an organ being transplanted into them.

"[C]ancer arising in an immunosuppressed environment may be more biologically aggressive," said Dr. Quoc-Dien Trinh, co-author of the study's accompanying editorial, according to Tech Times.

However, evidence of this hypothesis was not presented in the study.

"Despite the fact that SOTRs have shorter life expectancies and a higher risk of dying of non-cancer-related causes, these patients have an elevated risk of cancer death as compared with the general population," the researchers wrote.

The study was published in JAMA Oncology.

"Addressing the cancer burden in SOTRs is critical to improving the survival of these patients."

CBC reported that people who received lung, liver and other solid organs already had a higher risk for cancer.

Skin cancer was the most common cause of cancer-related death among the patients who participated in the study, reported CBC.

However, what remains unclear is whether they will die from the said disease.

For the study, the researchers studied around 11,000 transplant patients in Ontario, Canada between 1991 and 2010, for 20 years. These patients had received either kidney, liver, lung and heart transplants. 

Out of the 11,000 transplant patients, there were 3,608 patient deaths recorded, 20 percent or 603 of which were cancer-related.

The study also noted that the overall risk of cancer-related death remained high regardless of the organ the patients received.  The risk was higher for children who received transplants but lower in patients older than 60.

Cancer was the second-leading cause of death for patients, after heart-related causes.

Study author Dr. Nancy Baxter, a colorectal surgeon at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, said that transplant patients should be aware of their higher risk for cancer.

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