10. PTC: Cancer Types: Skin
What are the risk factors for skin cancer?
All transplant patients are at increased risk to develop skin cancer. However, transplant patients with the following characteristics are at greater risk for skin cancer. These characteristics are:
• Older individuals
• Fair and easily burned skin
• Freckled skin
• Blue, green or hazel eyes
• Red and blonde hair
• People who have outdoor occupations or extensive exposure to the sun
• Family history of skin cancer
• Personal history of skin cancer
How quickly does skin cancer develop after organ transplant?
The majority of fair-skinned organ transplant patients will eventually develop skin cancer. After a transplant, there is generally a lag time of 3-7 years before skin cancers begin to develop. This period of time may vary depending upon individual risk factors. The longer
a person takes immunosuppressant medications and the higher the dose, the greater the risk of skin cancer. In temperate climates 40% of fair-skinned patients develop skin cancer within 20 years after transplantation. In warmer climates, up to 80% of fair-skinned patients develop skin cancer within 20 years after transplant.
For more details, see the ITNS link below to their downloadable Skin Cancer booklet.
If caught early, skin cancers are almost always curable. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas can be treated with a variety of methods including scraping and freezing for early skin cancers and surgical removal for more advanced cancers.
Melanoma is treated by surgically removing the growth. Mohs micrographic surgery is a special surgical procedure used to ensure the complete removal of a skin cancer, while sparing normal skin. Although the surgical removal of skin cancers inevitably
leaves scars, appearance can usually be restored to a high degree after skin surgery.