A retrospective study to demonstrate the safety of corneas from donors affected by systemic malignancies in a view of keratoplasty.
Using the data of the cancer registry department in a district of 500,000 residents, we analyzed retrospectively 143 patients followed up in the same region and transplanted between 1987 and 1995. We compared the incidence of cancer in recipients of cornea coming from donors with malignancies with recipients of cornea from donors without malignancies. The rate of cancer in this population was also compared with the incidence of cancer in the general population at the same age.
Eleven patients (7%) were excluded from the study, eight of them for the presence of cancer in their medical history before surgery and the three others because of lack of information about their follow-up after surgery. Forty patients received corneas from cancerous donors and 103 from donors without cancer. Six patients developed malignancies between 1 and 4 years after transplantation, and only one of them received a cornea from a donor with a systemic malignancy. This recipient developed a different type of cancer from that of the donor. The five other patients received corneas from donors without systemic malignancies. By comparing theses results, there was no relationship between the occurrence of malignancies and transplantation of corneas from cancerous donors (relative risk = 0.49, 95% confidence interval = 0.01–13.62).
There was no increased incidence of cancer in our patient population compared with reference population. Based on this study, there is no statistical or clinical evidence to suggest the transmission of cancer from donors with malignancies via corneal transplantation, according to the accepted criteria of donor selection.