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J Heart Transplant. 1990 Nov-Dec;9(6):622-6.

Malignant tumors after heart transplantation.

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Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, U.K.


Three hundred-thirteen heart transplant procedures were performed in 303 patients in the 10 years between January 1979 and December 1988. The incidence, histologic type, and site of malignant disease have been analyzed in the 275 patients (91%) who survived more than 1 month after heart transplantation. Four immunosuppressive regimens have been used during this period. Patients 1 through 29 received azathioprine and steroids with 28 days of intravenous antithymocyte globulin. Patients 30 through 89 received cyclosporine and low-dose steroids; the next 61 patients were randomized between cyclosporine and low-dose steroids and cyclosporine and azathioprine; and after patient 150 we have used triple therapy. All cyclosporine-based regimens have included a short course of prophylactic antithymocyte globulin. Eleven malignant tumors have been diagnosed, between 2 months and 6 years after the transplant procedure, and these have been treated by a variety of means. These tumors were two squamous cell carcinomas of the skin; a malignant anal wart that recurred after excision and radiotherapy and necessitated abdominoperineal resection: two small-cell carcinomas of the lung: one squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus and one of the larynx; two carcinomas of the kidney were found at postmortem examinations; and there were two malignant lymphomas, one of which disseminated rapidly, whereas the other has had prolonged remissions with reduction in immunotherapy with acyclovir. These 11 tumors were responsible for four deaths. No relationship has been demonstrated between type of immunosuppression and tumor development. All patients who are immunosuppressed remain at increased risk for malignant changes. Close surveillance is needed to detect tumors at an early stage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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