A new study published in this month's issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology shows that the risk of cancer in kidney transplant recipients was reduced by more than 50% at five years post transplantation in those patients who were treated with sirolimus following withdrawal of cyclosporine at three months.
Cancer is now the second most common cause of premature death in kidney transplant recipients with an incidence of up to 10 times that seen in the general population. To date this risk has largely been considered to be due to overall immunosuppression as a class effect of the drugs used.
"Post transplant malignancies are a major cause of morbidity and death associated with maintenance immunosuppression following organ transplantation," said Dr Josep Campistol, Director of the Clinical Institute of Nephrology and Urology, of the Hospital Clinic de Barcelona. "The findings of this study are enormously important for transplant patients, not least because cancer is the second most common cause of premature death in these patients."
He continued: "Notably this study demonstrates that sirolimus can delay the appearance and/or decrease the frequency of malignancy in these patients. Longer follow up and additional trials are therefore needed to confirm what are already promising results."