Organ transplants linked to higher skin cancer risk

accreditation
iStock

People who have an organ transplant may be more likely to develop skin cancer, new research suggests.

Total-body skin exams

The finding applies to all transplant patients, even those who are non-white and dark-skinned, according to Dr Christina Lee Chung, an associate professor of dermatology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, and colleagues.

The researchers said the risk increases over time with ongoing exposure to medications that suppress the immune system to prevent organ rejection.

Read: Redhead gene may boost skin cancer risk

Total-body skin exams should be a routine part of care after transplant surgery, the study authors advised.

For the study, the researchers analysed medical records of 413 organ transplant recipients, 63 percent of whom were not white.

The investigators found 19 new skin cancers in 15 of the non-white patients. That group included six black patients, five Asians and four Hispanics. Among the black patients, all of the skin cancers were caught early on.

A unique group

Most of the Asian patients developed skin cancers in areas that had been exposed to the sun. Skin cancers were also found on sun-exposed areas and lower legs of the Hispanic patients.

Read: Expert advises busy parents to check for skin cancer

The researchers noted, however, that their ability to draw firm conclusions was limited by the small number of skin cancer patients. And the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

"Non-white organ transplant patients represent a unique group with specialised medical needs; thus, more knowledge on risk factors, appropriate screening methods and counselling points are essential for providing comprehensive dermatologic care for these patients," the study authors concluded.

The study was published online in JAMA Dermatology. 

Read more:

What is skin cancer?

Symptoms of skin cancer

Types of skin cancer

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
6% - 202 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
81% - 2607 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
12% - 397 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.97
-0.7%
Rand - Pound
19.90
-2.4%
Rand - Euro
17.60
-1.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.68
-0.4%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.6%
Gold
1,663.88
+0.2%
Silver
18.83
-0.4%
Palladium
2,230.00
+3.7%
Platinum
872.97
+0.8%
Brent Crude
89.32
+3.4%
Top 40
56,921
-0.9%
All Share
63,264
-0.9%
Resource 10
59,793
+3.3%
Industrial 25
76,769
-2.2%
Financial 15
13,707
-2.8%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE