Organ transplantation, as we know it, is a life-saving option for patients with severe organ disease -- the most common being kidney, followed by liver, heart, and lung. In 2010, approximately 30,000 solid organ transplants were performed in the United States, most of them kidney transplants.
After organ transplantation, the recipient must take immunosuppressant medications in an effort to prevent the newly transplanted organ from being rejected. These particular medications are fantastic at preventing rejection, but it can be a catch-22 situation for patients because it may also increase their risk of developing cancer-immunosuppression. Oncogenic viral infections increase this risk. Certain tumors are known to be related to certain viruses, and immunosuppressant therapy decreases the body's ability to fight off these viruses, with the most common being Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
It is important to note that not all cancers are linked to immunosuppression. Transplant recipients may already carry undetectable cancer cells in the body prior to transplantation that may develop into advanced cancer disease later on. It's difficult to know for sure if these cancers are in fact related to immunosuppression therapy or a pre-existing cancer prior to transplantation, but researchers at the National Cancer Institute have stated that the cancer risk for transplant recipients is approximately 2.1 times higher than in the non-transplant population.
The research team, led by Dr. Eric A. Engels, analyzed data on more than 175,000 transplant recipients in an effort to evaluate this cancer risk. It hopes these findings trigger more carcinogenic research related to organ transplantation. Early detection and prevention in any population is important, but this may be even more significant in the transplant patient population.
Many oncology nurses are faced with terminally ill patients every day, and many of these patients are organ donors. If the patient or family member asks whether he or she can still be an organ donor, what would your response be? Let us know on the message board below.
Ashley Leak, PhD, RN, geriatric oncology nurse, Cancer Care Quality Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing at UNC Chapel Hill, explains the reasons she enjoyed attending the ONS Annual Congress meeting.
Joni Watson, oncology clinical nurse manager at the University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin, Texas, discusses the importance of the ONS Annual Congress meetings and why she finds them to be exciting from a professional and personal standpoint.
The 2013 Nurse Compensation Survey Results Are In Michelle Bragazzi, BS, RN, 5/3/2013 32 In February, TheONC surveyed more than 600 oncology nurses to find out more about their careers. We wanted to know if they felt adequately compensated and satisfied within their ...
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