02. PTC Risks by Organ Type Introduction

02. PTC Risks by Organ Type Introduction

Imagine this too common scenario: A candidate for organ transplant attends the pre-transplant introduction offered by most transplant programs.  Among the overwhelming amount of information explained is the fact that a transplant recipient will be on immunosuppressant medications for the rest of their lives and with that comes a higher risk for cancers.  With focus on the transplant process, this is of little note at the time. After the transplant again there is mention of that higher risk for cancer, but with all the other important things that seems of little consequence, especially since those cancers typically don't arise til years later.  Especially for kidney recipients, due to the high volume of transplants at most programs, a patient often transitions back to their local nephrologist after that first year post transplant.  Now they are under the care of a kidney doctor who is not a transplant specialist and thus may get little attention to that increasing risk for cancers as the years go on.

How much higher is that risk for a transplant recipient?  See more detail in the Overview below these videos.

Watch this introductory video to better understand the post-transplant cancer risk in general, then follow on to your specific type of organ transplant to see what cancers are more common for that type of transplant. 


Many studies now confirm that cancer is a major source of morbidity and mortality following solid organ transplantation and has become one of the three major causes of death after transplantation in the past decade.  A recent study supports this issue further. From The Oncology Report: Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common cancer to occur after organ transplantation,” Dr. Chestnut and his associates noted. “The malignancy is 65-250 times more common, is more than 4 times more likely to mestastasize, and has a mortality rate of 5% compared with a rate of less than 1% in immunocompetent patients.” Thus, knowledge of post-transplant cancer risks and options for prevention are critically important to all transplant recipients.

Root causes of post-transplant cancers


So you wonder why the cancer risks are different by type of organ transplant?  Since most of the higher risk is due to our immunosuppressant medications, one can understand that with different medications and different dosages used for each type of organ transplant, those risks would vary by organ type.

In the topics that follow, cancer risk differences are described by each type of transplanted organ, so read on for your spedific organ topic . . .You heard Dr. Tsai describe the 'root causes" of cancer post-transplant in his video above, but medication was just the main contributing factor.  There are many others based on such things as certain medications making the patient more sensitive to sunlight, for example, along with age, gene and DNA differences, family and individual life histories, to name just a few more.

Action Plan

Step 1: Read the "Cancer Risk by Organ Type" topic (see organ type icon links below) and understand the higher risks of specific types of cancer post-transplant common to your organ transplant type.

Step 2: . . . then under LINKS on this PTC site, see the "10 Best Practices" for steps to take to control and deal with your personal PTC risk.  Make these your life extending habits.

Choose a transplant organ type:

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    DISCLAIMER: The content of this TRIO post-transplant cancer Web site is not influenced by sponsors. The site is designed primarily for use by transplant recipients and their supporters. The information contained herein should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other health care provider. The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Please check with your transplant team or a physician skilled in cancer and your organ type if you suspect you are ill.