Background: Lung transplantation is a viable therapy for patients with end-stage lung disease and is being increasingly performed worldwide. The incidence of lung cancer after lung transplantation has increased concomitantly, although data are still sparse.
Methods: The computerized medical records of the Pulmonary Institute of a tertiary care medical center were searched for patients who underwent lung transplantation from 1997 to 2009 and acquired lung cancer postoperatively. The prevalence, potential contributing factors, and outcome of bronchogenic cancer were determined, and the medical literature was reviewed.
Results: Bronchogenic cancer developed in 7 of the 290 lung transplant recipients (2.4%). All had received a single lung transplant and in most cases, the cancer developed in the native lung. These findings were similar to reports in the literature. The indication for transplantation was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis/interstitial lung disease. All had a history of smoking. The average interval from transplantation to development of lung cancer was 5 years (range 1-9). Five patients had stage 4 cancer at diagnosis and 2 had stage 1. Six patients died from 10 days to 1 year after diagnosis.
Conclusion: Lung transplantation is associated with a relatively high prevalence of bronchogenic cancer, particularly in the native lung, in patients with primary chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and a history of smoking. The cancer is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage with poor outcome. Efforts to improve screening are recommended, as aggressive management and treatment may be beneficial for earlier stage disease.
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