Study finds lung transplants increase survival of cystic fibrosis patients by more than four years

ORLANDO, Fla.--Lung transplantation increases the survival of patients with cystic fibrosis by almost 4.5 years on average, according to a study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Orlando on May 24.

"Initially the risks from lung transplantation for cystic fibrosis patients are quite high, but the risk drops over time, and it becomes worth the risk in the long run," said study co-author Roger D. Yusen, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Divisions of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and General Medical Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common lethal genetic disease in Caucasians, but it affects all races and ethnic groups. The disease affects about 30,000 people in the United States. Approximately 1,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. People with CF live an average of 33 years. They develop severe lung disease, with a combination of airway obstruction, infection, and inflammation that accounts for the majority of deaths from the disease.

CF patients who receive lung transplants to treat their disease must have a double lung transplant in order for the surgery to be effective, said Dr. Yusen. Lung transplants are not common--approximately 1,000 are performed each year in the United States, and only 150 of them, or 15%, are performed on CF patients. "In the United States, lungs are distributed to patients on the waiting list based primarily on their waiting time, whereas the system for patients waiting for heart or liver transplant depends highly on medical urgency," explained Dr. Yusen.

However, a proposal currently being considered prioritizes patients on the waiting list for lung transplantation based on the medical urgency and the probability of survival after transplantation.

Dr. Yusen and colleagues studied all patients with CF who were on the waiting list for lung transplantation at Washington Uni

Contact: Jim Augustine, Bill Glitz or Cathy Carlomagno
American Thoracic Society

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