Background. Patients are at an increased risk for developing malignancies after transplantation. Lymphomas, skin malignancies, Kaposi's sarcomas, and cervical/vulvar neoplasms are the most common, but visceral malignancies are also well documented, with a reported frequency ranging from 1% to 6%. These visceral tumors represent a mix of neoplasms that were clinically occult at the time of transplantation and those that arise de novo after transplantation. Little information, however, is available on the frequency of clinically occult malignancies at the time of transplantation and their contribution to the number of posttransplant malignancies. Methods. A retrospective study was performed of all patients who received an organ transplant from January 1981 to June 1997 and died within 100 days, a time interval in which epithelial malignancies found at autopsy were presumed to have been present, but clinically occult, at the time of transplantation. Results. A total of 375 patients were studied who received the following organ transplants: 231 liver, 52 heart, 26 heart and lung, 32 lung, and 34 kidney. Eleven malignancies were identified for an overall frequency of 2.9% and included three thyroid carcinomas, three carcinoids of the small bowel, two lung carcinomas, one laryngeal carcinoma, one renal cell carcinoma, and one seminoma. Conclusion. The 2.9% frequency of malignancies seen in this study suggests that a small, but significant, number of patients have occult malignancies at the time of transplantation and that these occult tumors contribute substantially to the number of malignancies that present clinically after transplantation.
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