Because of their life-long requirement for immunosuppressive therapy, neoplastic disorders could represent a significant threat to long-term survival in infants and children after heart transplantation. This study determined the incidence and clinical spectrum of neoplastic disorders in 80 pediatric patients who underwent heart transplantation between 1974 and 1992.Follow-up ranged from 6 to 189 months (mean, 50.0 months). Tumors occurred in 10 patients (12.5%). Time to detection ranged from 3.3 to 139.2 months (mean, 52.7 months). Tumor incidence was greatest in 9 patients transplanted before the cyclosporine era (44%) compared with the subsequent 71 patients (8.5%, P < .05). There was no increase in risk related to sex, age, underlying disease, or blood type; however, patients with tumors received higher initial doses of cyclosporine and prednisone and had more rejection episodes in the first 3 months (P < .05). There was an increased risk associated with anti-thymocyte globulin (33%, P < .05) but not with OKT3 (6%, P = NS). There were eight lymphoproliferative disorders (four B-cell, one T-cell, three not determined) and one hepatocellular and one squamous cell carcinomas. Six cases of lymphoproliferative disorder had in situ evidence of Epstein-Barr virus. Patients were treated by reducing immunosuppression (7), radiotherapy (2), and chemotherapy (1). There were five deaths: two tumor related and the others due to rejection, renal failure, and infection. Of 5 survivors, 1 had tumor recurrence 4 years after diagnosis, and 4 are disease free.Tumors represent a small but serious long-term risk to pediatric heart transplant recipients. The incidence in children transplanted in the cyclosporine era is similar to that in adults, and the majority of tumors are lymphoproliferative disorders that often regress by reducing immunosuppression.
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