Hopkins: Organ transplant recipients more susceptible to deadly skin cancer

By WMAR Staff
Published on August 14, 2015

Organ transplant recipients are twice as likely to contract aggressive and advanced stage skin cancer and three time more likely to die from said cancer compared to people who don’t undergo an organ transplant, according to new research conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The culprit, researchers said, is the medication transplant patients are mandated to take to keep the body from rejecting new organs.

“We knew that melanoma was more likely in transplant recipients, but we thought it might be a function of intensive screening since they are very likely to develop less deadly forms of skin cancer and are checked regularly by dermatologists,” Hilary A. Robbins, a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School, said in a news release.

“To the contrary, we were surprised to see that transplant recipients were particularly at risk for developing melanomas that weren’t found until they had already spread,” she said.

“The researchers found that transplant recipients were four times more likely to be diagnosed with regional stage melanoma, which has already begun to spread to other parts of the body,” the release states.

The risk of melanoma was found especially high in patients between one and four years after surgery, which is a major problem considering transplant patients are required to take immunosuppressant medications for the rest of their lives.

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See the full announcement here.

See the full report in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer in the United State, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is responsible for 9,000 deaths a year.

Robbins conducted much of the research while working at the National Cancer Institute, the release continues.

Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc.

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