Skin Cancer after Organ Transplant


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For recipients of solid organ transplants, the risk of skin cancer is greatly increased. Cancers of the skin are the most prevalent types of cancer among transplant recipients. According to statistics, seven out of ten transplant recipients develop some form of skin cancer within 20 years. This occurs on account of the intense immunosuppressive medications transplant recipients are required to take.

In most cases, the number of cancers will be limited and treatable. However, a few patients may experience a severe problem, possibly developing hundreds of different cancers of the skin. These are often difficult to treat and they may be life-threatening.

Preventing skin cancer is crucial, and it should begin at the time of and even before transplantation. Patients should see their dermatologist to have regular skin check and learn how to detect skin cancers themselves. For any kind of cancer, the earliest possible detection is the key to successful treatment. These lesions can develop at any time following a transplant. It is vital that your transplant team work closely with your dermatologist to ensure you receive the treatment and care for the best outcome.

There is no certain way to determine which transplant recipients are likely to be seriously affected with skin cancer. It is therefore important that all recipients are aware of the risks and practice sun protective behaviors by applying sunscreen and wearing sun protective clothing on a regular basis.

Solid organ transplant recipients may also develop non-cancerous skin changes, including losing or growing hair, developing fungal infections in the nails and skin, acne, shingles, warts, and many others. Therefore, it is crucial to see your dermatologist on a regular basis, to address any and all of your skin concerns.

Your dermatologist can help educate you on to avoid the increased risks of skin cancer, how to protect your skin from sun damage, recognizing the signs of cancer, and is available for timely treatment that can be literally life-saving.

  • Transplant recipients are 65 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma is almost four times more common in kidney transplant recipients
  • Nearly half of all transplant recipients do not recall receiving skin care advice
  • Only one out of four transplant recipients use sun protection

Contact Sanova Dermatology

If you would like more information, or if you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dermatologists, please contact us today.

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