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Study Finds No Cancer Risk from Blood Transfusions

Blood from donors with undiagnosed cancer does not appear to pose risk to recipients

FRIDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- There is no evidence that blood from donors with undiagnosed cancer can increase the risk of cancer in recipients, according to the results of a study published in the May 19 issue of The Lancet.

Olof Nyrén, M.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data from 354,094 patients who had received blood transfusions, of whom 12,012 (3 percent) were exposed to blood products from donors later diagnosed with cancer.

When data on recipients from pre-cancerous and non-cancerous donors were compared, the investigators found no difference in terms of cancer risk in the recipients.

"Although our findings should not be over-interpreted, the overall consistency of the negative results does not support the hypothesis that allogenic transfusion of single malignant cells can lead to engraftment and subsequent development of clinical malignancies in human transfusion recipients," the authors conclude.

"Blood is an immensely complex and biologically active substance. Although the potential for standard allogenic blood transfusion to save lives is incontrovertible, our understanding of the full consequences of transfusion is rudimentary," writes Garth Utter, M.D., of the University of California-Davis, in an editorial. He adds that the authors "have taken an important stride forward in evaluating one of these potential long-term risks of blood transfusion."

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