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Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2005 Oct;56(1):147-53.

Colorectal cancer after orthotopic liver transplantation.

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  • 1The Liver Unit, 3rd Floor, Nuffield House, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TH, UK.


There is an increased incidence of de novo malignancies in post-liver transplant patients, commonly associated with chronic viral infection comprising lymphoproliferative disease and skin cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma and Kaposi's sarcoma. The overall incidence of colorectal cancer however in this population seems to be no different to the age and sex matched general population. In identified high risk patients like those with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the incidence of colorectal cancer appears to be higher. In IBD, like other pre-malignant conditions, the risk of developing malignancy increases exponentially with time, raising the question of whether the apparent increase in the incidence of colorectal cancer is the result of liver transplantation and immunosuppression or due to the natural history of IBD. For these PSC recipients, pre-transplant screening with colonoscopy and post-transplant surveillance for malignant change in the large bowel is crucial. The behaviour of inflammatory bowel disease post-liver transplant is largely unpredictable despite immunosuppression. Colorectal cancer when it occurs in the post-liver transplant patient should be managed according to current guidelines, stage for stage as for the population in general coupled with reduction in immunosuppression treatment.

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