“Donor-Derived Breast Cancer” Kills Three

Cancer spreads from organ donor to 4 people in ‘extra ordinary’ case

| Rachael Rettner, Live Science –  Four people in Europe developed cancer after they received organs from the same donor, according to a new report.

Three of the patients died from the cancer, which underscores the “often-fatal consequences of donor-derived breast cancer,” the authors wrote in their report, published in the July issue of the American Journal of Transplantation.

Undetected cancer

The 53-year-old organ donor died from a stroke in 2007. She had no known medical conditions that would have precluded organ donation, and multiple tests showed no signs of cancer.

Doctors transplanted her kidneys, lungs, liver and heart. (The heart-transplant recipient died of unrelated causes shortly after the transplant.)

But 16 months later, a woman who received the lung transplant became ill and was found to have cancer in the lymph nodes in her chest.

An analysis revealed that they were actually breast cancer cells that had come from the organ donor. The lung recipient’s cancer spread, and she died about a year after her cancer diagnosis.

At that time, the three other living patients who’d received the donations were notified. Doctors told them that the lung recipient had died from breast cancer tied to her transplant. These patients underwent tests for cancer, which were initially negative.

But in 2011, the liver-transplant patient was found to have breast cancer cells in her liver. The patient didn’t want to undergo another liver transplant, because she was afraid of potential complications. A radiation treatment for the cancer was initially helpful, but the cancer later returned, and that patient died in 2014.

The patient who received the left kidney was also later diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 — six years after her transplant. The cancer had already spread to many other organs, and the patient passed away two months later. Read more.

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