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Organ transplantation from deceased donors with cancer: is it safe?

Authors Nalesnik M, Ison M

Published 11 August 2011 Volume 2011:4 Pages 11—20

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OAS.S14720

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

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Michael A Nalesnik1, Michael G Ison2
1Division of Transplantation and Hepatic Pathology, Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburg, PA, USA; 2Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Organ Transplantation, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA

Abstract: The availability of donor organs continues to be insufficient to meet the needs of patients actively waiting for transplant. Consequently, there is continuing pressure to increase the donor organ pool while simultaneously assuring safety for the recipient population. The complication of donor malignancy transmission has been documented almost from the beginning of transplantation, and continues to be a concern today. The anecdotal nature of case reports and compiled series ensures that clinical decisions related to organ use from donors with malignancy will of necessity continue to be made on the basis of low-level evidence. Despite this limitation, the literature indicates that not all donor neoplasms have the same risk for transmission to the recipient, and it is necessary to consider the specific malignancy affecting the donor, as well as the condition of the recipient, before a decision is made to transplant or discard a given organ. Published cases suggest that certain forms of neoplasia, such as melanoma, choriocarcinoma, sarcoma, small cell carcinoma, or metastatic carcinomas serve as strong contraindications to organ donation. In contrast, considerable experience exists to suggest that certain tumors of the central nervous system, small subclinical prostate carcinomas, or small renal cell carcinomas resected prior to transplant, among other tumors, should not in themselves disqualify an individual from donating organs in the appropriate circumstance. This review presents the case for considering organ transplantation in the setting of certain donor malignancies and discusses factors to be weighed in such decisions. Additionally, donors with a history of cancer are considered, and features that may aid in reaching a conclusion for or against transplantation of organs from these patients are presented.

Keywords: organ transplantation, donor organs, malignancy, complications

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