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Stem Cell Transplant Poses Long-Term Second Cancer Risk

Odds greater for older patients and recipients of cells from female donors

MONDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- While hematopoietic stem cell transplantation offers the chance of a cure for diseases such as leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome, it also increases the 10-year risk of developing a second, solid cancer by 85 percent, according to a report published online Nov. 27 in Cancer.

Genevieve Gallagher, M.D., of the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada, and a colleague analyzed data from 926 patients who were treated with myeloablative stem cell transplantation between 1985 and 2003.

The incidence of second cancers was 3.1 percent, and was 2.3 percent when non-melanoma skin cancer and cervical carcinoma in situ were excluded, a risk 1.85 times that of the general population. Diagnosis occurred a median seven years after transplant, and the most commonly reported cancers were basal and squamous cell skin cancer as well as lung, oral cavity and colon cancers.

Among transplant recipients aged over 40, the risk of developing a second, solid cancer more than tripled and almost quadrupled in patients who received cells from a female donor. "This unexpected finding is a new observation and has not been reported previously," the authors write.

"Extended follow-up will be needed to assess more fully the incidence and risk factors for the development of solid cancers, because the latency can be prolonged," they conclude.

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