Review

Continuing Medical EducationNature Reviews Nephrology 6, 511-519 (September 2010) | doi:10.1038/nrneph.2010.102

Subject Category: Oncology

Malignancy after renal transplantation: the role of immunosuppression

Inés Rama & Josep M. Grinyó  About the authors

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Outcomes of kidney transplantation, in terms of graft and patient survival, have improved over the past few decades, partly as a result of the introduction of new immunosuppressive drugs. Many immunosuppressive agents are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and an increased risk of cancer, however, which can compromise patient survival. Cancer is more common among solid-organ transplant recipients than it is in the general population or in patients on dialysis. In fact, malignancy is the third most common cause of death in renal transplant recipients. Immunosuppressive treatments used in renal transplant recipients can cause malignancy by supporting oncogenesis caused by certain viruses or by impairing immune surveillance thereby enabling faster tumor growth. In this Review, we describe the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of common tumor types occurring after kidney transplantation, and the etiopathogenetic factors that lead to their appearance, with a particular focus on the relationship between immunosuppressive treatment and malignancy. Immunosuppressive drugs associated with an increased risk of malignancy after transplantation are also discussed, as are immunosuppressive drugs that seem to have antioncogenic properties.

Author affiliations

I. Rama & J. M. Grinyó
Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge, Feixa Llarga s/n 08907, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain (I. Rama, J. M. Grinyó).

Correspondence to: J. M. Grinyó jgrinyo@bellvitgehospital.cat