The safety of solid organ transplantation from deceased donors with a history of cancer
There is a shortage of suitable organ donors in the UK. Every year, many people waiting for a transplant die or become too unwell to undergo the operation.
Some conditions, including cancer, can occasionally be passed from an organ donor to the person that receives the transplant. Contracting cancer in this way is extremely rare. The transplant team takes all possible steps to avoid it happening. The risk is not the same for all types of cancer. Some donor cancers have a lower risk of being passed to the recipient. Therefore, many people with a history of cancer have donated their organs, saving hundreds of lives.
The age of organ donors in the UK is increasing and cancer care is improving. This means that we are encountering more potential donors who have a history of cancer. Understanding the risk of spreading cancer through organ transplantation is more important than ever.
In the UK there are large registries – or databases – that record information on certain diseases across the whole country. For this study, we have linked (combined) data from three registries:
The UK Transplant Registry, a database of all organ donors and recipients in the UK, maintained by NHSBT
The National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, a registry of all cancers in England, maintained by NHS Digital
The Scottish Cancer Registry, maintained by Public Health Scotland
We will use statistical analysis to study the risks and benefits of transplanting organs from donors with a history of cancer. We also hope to learn more about how we should treat patients with or at risk of transmitted cancer.
Our study will help to make transplantation safer. We aim to give doctors, patients and their families the best information available, so they can make decisions that are right for them.
This study uses data on organ donors and transplant recipients in England and Scotland. We hope to combine data from other UK cancer registries, to provide the most accurate picture of this important issue across the country.