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Ann Thorac Surg. 1995 Dec;60(6):1623-6.

Solid tumors after heart transplantation: lethality of lung cancer.

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Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.



Prolonged nonspecific immunosuppression after solid-organ transplantation is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. This study examined the development of solid-organ tumors after cardiac transplantation.


Thirty-eight solid tumors were identified in 36 (5.9%) of 608 cardiac transplant recipients who survived more than 30 days. Two patients had two types of skin tumors (basal cell and squamous cell). The tumors included the following types: skin (15), lung (10), breast (1), bladder (2), larynx (2), liver (1), parotid (1), testicle (1), uterus (2), melanoma (2), and Merkel's cell (1). Four immunosuppression regimens based on cyclosporin A or FK 506 were used during this period.


There was no association between the incidence of solid tumors and the use of lympholytic therapy. After the diagnosis of tumor was made, the actuarial 2-year survival rates of recipients with skin, lung, and other solid tumors were 71%, 22%, and 23%, respectively. Eight of 10 patients with lung cancer were in stage IIIA or higher at the time of diagnosis.


Skin and lung tumors are the most frequent solid tumors in heart transplant recipients. Skin tumors (except Merkel's cell carcinoma and melanoma) usually have a benign course, whereas lung and other tumors developing in cardiac transplant recipients carry a poor prognosis. Advanced disease stage at the time of diagnosis is responsible for the dismal outcome of recipients in whom solid tumors develop. Close postoperative tumor surveillance after cardiac transplantation is warranted.

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