Donor cancer transmission in kidney transplantation

D Xiao, Jonathan Craig, Jeremy Chapman, Beatriz Dominguez-Gil, Allison Tong, Germaine Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Transplantation of any biological material from a donor to a host will carry some inherent risk of disease transmission. Our aims were to summarize the totality of the published evidence about donor cancer transmission among kidney transplant recipients and to determine the cancer-specific survival of these patients. We systematically reviewed all case reports, case series and registry studies that described the outcomes of kidney transplant recipients with donor cancer transmission published to December 2012. A total of 69 studies with 104 donor-transmitted cancer cases were identified. The most common transmitted cancer types were renal cancer (n = 20, 19%), followed by melanoma (n = 18, 17%), lymphoma (n = 15, 14%) and lung cancer (n = 9, 9%). Patients with melanoma and lung cancers had the worst prognosis, with less than 50% of recipients surviving after 24 months from transplantation. Recipients with transmitted renal cancers had the best outcomes, with over 70% of recipients surviving for at least 24 months after transplantation. Overall, the risk of donor transmission of cancer appears low, but there is a high likelihood of reporting bias. Our findings support the current recommendations for rejecting organs from donors with a history of melanoma and lung cancer, but suggest that the use of donor kidneys with a history of small, incidental renal cell cancer may be reasonable. The authors conduct an systematic review of published cases of donor-transmitted cancer and report survival outcomes of recipients by cancer type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2645-2652
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer transmission
  • donor cancer
  • kidney transplantation


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