About Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disease

Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD) is a type of cancer or lymphoma that may occur after bone marrow or organ transplant.

A patient who receives a transplant must take medications to suppress their immune system (immunosuppression) so that their body will not reject the new bone marrow or organ.

When the immune system is suppressed, it is easier to become sick. Sometimes when a transplant patient is infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the virus may cause a serious cancer or lymphoma known as PTLD.

EBV is a common virus that infects over 90% of people in the world. For most healthy people, it causes common cold like symptoms and then stays in your body but is completely controlled by your immune system, so you don’t have any further symptoms after the initial infection. If a person has a suppressed immune system, the EBV can activate and cause an uncontrolled growth of cells in the patient’s lymph nodes and other organs. When abnormal cells multiply out of control, it may result in cancer.

PTLD is a common cancer after transplant but is still considered a rare disease that only occurs in a small percentage of transplant patients. Rates of PTLD cancer are higher for people who have types of bone marrow and organ transplants that require higher levels of immunosuppression.


The symptoms may vary for PTLD cancer, but some of the common symptoms may include:

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin

  • Upper respiratory tract symptoms:

    • Scratchy or sore throat

    • Cough

    • Shortness of breath

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Unintentional weight loss

  • Decrease of appetite

  • Night sweats

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please consult with your treating physician.

FOr more information

To learn more about PTLD cancer click here to contact an Atara representative.

To learn more about clinical trials for PTLD cancer, click here.