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The safety of solid organ transplantation from deceased donors with a history of cancer
There is a shortage of suitable organ donors in the UK. Every year, many people waiting for a transplant die or become too unwell to undergo the operation.
Some conditions, including cancer, can occasionally be passed from an organ donor to the person that receives the transplant. Contracting cancer in this way is extremely rare. The transplant team takes all possible steps to avoid it happening. The risk is not the same for all types of cancer. Some donor cancers have a lower risk of being passed to the recipient. Therefore, many people with a history of cancer have donated their organs, saving hundreds of lives.
The age of organ donors in the UK is increasing and cancer care is improving. This means that we are encountering more potential donors who have a history of cancer. Understanding the risk of spreading cancer through organ transplantation is more important than ever.
In the UK there are large registries – or databases – that monitor certain diseases across the country. To study this topic in more detail, we are combining data from two registries – the UK Transplant Registry and the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS). We will use statistical analysis to study the risks and benefits of transplanting organs from donors with a history of cancer. We will also learn more about how we should treat patients with or at risk of transmitted cancer.
Our study will help to make transplantation safer. We aim to give doctors, patients and their families the best information available, so they can make decisions that are right for them.
We are carrying out this study in collaboration with NCRAS, using data held by NHSBT and NCRAS on organ donors and transplant recipients in England. We plan to expand the project to combine data from other cancer registries, to provide the most accurate picture of this important issue across the UK.