Based on the results of a study, no single medication is responsible for the higher risk of cancer observed among patient who have received immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant.
Patients who receive kidney transplant have been observed to have an elevated risk for developing cancer compared with the general community.
Scientists theorize that the elevated risk may arise from long-term immunosuppressive drugs or medication taken by patients in order to avoid organ rejection.
Martin Gallagher and colleagues from the George Institute for International Health in Australia studied the incidence of cancer among transplant patients involved in a randomized clinical trial 20 years ago with an aim to examine different immunosuppressive drugs and its associated cancer risks.
The subjects of their study were 481 kidney transplant recipients at the Australian Multicentre Trial of Cyclosporine Withdrawal, who each was given one of 3 treatment regimes; azathioprine and prednisolone, cyclosporine monotherapy or cyclosporine monotherapy followed with a switch to azathioprine and prednisolone after 3 months.
The results showed a total of 226 patients developed at least one cancer. Twenty years after transplant, 27 per cent developed non-skin cancer and 48 per cent developed skin cancer.
One kind of treatment did not produce bigger impact on cancer timing or incidence than the other, showing that all the regimes carried same risks for cancer post kidney transplant.
We have shown no significant differences with a high degree of precision, allowing us to conclude that any differences in cancer risk from these different treatments are unlikely to be clinically significant, said Dr Gallagher.
The study offers the most substantial proof that no single immunosuppressive drug seems to influence the increase in cancer risk observed post transplant.
It was found out that specific patient characteristics known at the time of transplantation may have had a significant effect on patient's elevated cancer risk.
Non-skin cancer was found out to be related with increasing age, and a history of smoking, while skin cancer was related with increasing age, fairer skin, non-brown eye colour and a functioning transplant.
Thus, patients who are more predisposed to developing cancer can be kept under close supervision and other preventative measures can be used to protect against cancer.
The study authors remarked that immunesuppresive procedures have now evolved for the better compared to two decades ago and today's immunosuppressive course of treatments are superior at managing acute rejection and effective at immunosuppression.