Data suggest that blood transfusion can cause immunosuppression. The incidence of recurrence of tumours was examined retrospectively in patients who had undergone potentially curative operations for cancer of the colon during 1970-81. Tumours recurred in six of 68 patients (9%) who had not been given transfusions and in 56 of 129 patients (43%) who had (p <0 0001). Transfusion was also found to be significantly associated with the time to recurrence after adjustment for other baseline prognostic factors (p <0 05). Perioperative transfusion may be a significant risk factor in the prognosis of cancer of the colon. Whether this association is causal is unknown.
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