Solid organ transplantation after treatment for childhood cancer: a retrospective cohort analysis from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study

Lancet Oncol. 2019 Oct;20(10):1420-1431. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(19)30418-8. Epub 2019 Aug 27.


Background: Serious chronic medical conditions occur in childhood cancer survivors. We aimed to investigate incidence of and risk factors for end-organ damage resulting in registration on a waiting list for or receiving a solid organ transplantation and 5-year survival following these procedures.

Methods: The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) is a retrospective cohort of individuals who survived at least 5 years after childhood cancer diagnosed at younger than 21 years of age, between Jan 1, 1970, and Dec 31, 1986, at one of 25 institutions in the USA. We linked data from CCSS participants treated in the USA diagnosed between Jan 1, 1970, and Dec 31, 1986 (without solid organ transplantation before cohort entry) to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network-a database of all US organ transplants. Eligible participants had been diagnosed with leukaemia, lymphoma, malignant CNS tumours, neuroblastoma, Wilms' tumours, and bone and soft tissue sarcomas. The two primary endpoints for each type of organ transplant were date of first registration of a transplant candidate on the waiting list for an organ and the date of the first transplant received. We also calculated the cumulative incidence of being placed on a waiting list or receiving a solid organ transplantation, hazard ratios (HRs) for identified risk factors, and 5-year survival following transplantation.

Findings: Of 13 318 eligible survivors, 100 had 103 solid organ transplantations (50 kidney, 37 heart, nine liver, seven lung) and 67 were registered on a waiting list without receiving a transplant (21 kidney, 25 heart, 15 liver, six lung). At 35 years after cancer diagnosis, the cumulative incidence of transplantation or being on a waiting list was 0·54% (95% CI 0·40-0·67) for kidney transplantation, 0·49% (0·36-0·62) for heart, 0·19% (0·10-0·27) for liver, and 0·10% (0·04-0·16) for lung. Risk factors for kidney transplantation were unilateral nephrectomy (HR 4·2, 95% CI 2·3-7·7), ifosfamide (24·9, 7·4-83·5), total body irradiation (6·9, 2·3-21·1), and mean kidney radiation of greater than 15 Gy (>15-20 Gy, 3·6 [1·5-8·5]; >20 Gy 4·6 [1·1-19·6]); for heart transplantation, anthracycline and mean heart radiation of greater than 20 Gy (dose-dependent, both p<0·0001); for liver transplantation, dactinomycin (3·8, 1·3-11·3) and methotrexate (3·3, 1·0-10·2); for lung transplantation, carmustine (12·3, 3·1-48·9) and mean lung radiation of greater than 10 Gy (15·6, 2·6-92·7). 5-year overall survival after solid organ transplantation was 93·5% (95% CI 81·0-97·9) for kidney transplantation, 80·6% (63·6-90·3) for heart, 27·8% (4·4-59·1) for liver, and 34·3% (4·8-68·6) for lung.

Interpretation: Solid organ transplantation is uncommon in ageing childhood cancer survivors. Organ-specific exposures were associated with increased solid organ transplantation incidence. Survival outcomes showed that solid organ transplantation should be considered for 5-year childhood cancer survivors with severe end-organ failure.

Funding: US National Institute of Health, American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities, US Health Resources and Services Administration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cancer Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • End Stage Liver Disease / surgery
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / surgery
  • Heart Transplantation / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / surgery
  • Kidney Transplantation / statistics & numerical data
  • Liver Transplantation / statistics & numerical data
  • Lung Injury / surgery
  • Lung Transplantation / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Organ Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Moral Judgment
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Waiting Lists
  • Young Adult