Of the various types of skin cancer, melanoma is the deadliest, with a mortality rate up to 6 percent in some regions of the world. The classic risk factors for melanoma are ultraviolet radiation, commonly caused by sunburns, a suppressed immune system, and family history of abnormal moles. Studies demonstrate that the immune system plays a critical role in monitoring the body for and destroying early cancerous cells, including melanoma.
Patients taking immunosuppressants after organ transplantation would be assumed to be at higher risk for cancers. Studies show that this holds true for nonmelanoma skin cancers but do not agree for melanoma risk. The baseline low incidence of melanoma in the general population may contribute to conflicting data. Low incidence of disease means that more people need to be studied to discern an association.
In the largest study to date, Christopher S. Hollenbeak, Ph.D., of Penn State College of Medicine and his colleagues compared melanoma incidence rates from a registry of renal transplant patients (89,786 patients) to general population data.
They found that renal transplant recipients are 3.6 times more likely to develop melanoma than the general population. Risk increases five percent per year after the transplant. Though some melanomas will develop immediately after transplant, risk continues to increase approximately five percent per year from transplant. Melanoma risk is greatest in men and increases rapidly with age. In contrast, while women are at increased risk,
Contact: Amy Molnar
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.