Cancer evaluation in the assessment of solid organ transplant candidates: A systematic review of clinical practice guidelines

Transplant Rev (Orlando). 2018 Jan;32(1):29-35. doi: 10.1016/j.trre.2017.10.002. Epub 2017 Nov 8.


Background: Active malignancies are a contraindication to transplantation, as immunosuppression can lead to worse cancer outcomes; therefore, ensuring transplant candidates are free of malignancy before transplantation is essential. This systematic review assesses the availability, quality, and consistency of recommended cancer evaluation prior to transplantation in Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) for the selection of solid organ transplant candidates.

Methods: We systematically searched for CPGs for the assessment of transplant candidates. The characteristics of included CPGs, strength of recommendations and supporting evidence were extracted. A quality assessment of the CPGs was conducted using the AGREE II tool.

Results: We identified 52 CPG for the selection of solid organ transplant candidates. Only 13 (25%) included recommendations for cancer evaluation as part of the assessment of transplant candidates. Most recommended age and sex appropriate cancer screening as per the general population guidelines. Recommendations to evaluate for other malignancies and for high-risk candidates were variable. Most recommendations were based on expert opinion and only two CPGs provided an explicit link between the recommendations and supporting evidence.

Conclusion: There is a lack of clear and consistent recommendations for pretransplant cancer evaluation in existing CPGs. Although there is some consensus regarding the indication to screen for cancer as per the recommendations for the general population, these recommendations are not an appropriate risk reduction strategy for transplant candidates. Standardized protocols to ensure transplant candidates are cancer free prior to transplantation are needed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Tissue Donors / supply & distribution*
  • Transplant Recipients*