The study, to be published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society (Nov.1, 2005 issue), indicates increased risk for patients who undergo kidney transplantation and who receive long-term immuno-suppression. Furthermore, risk was highest overall in men -increasing with age- but significantly lower in women and African-Americans.
"The take-home message is that kidney transplant patients-especially men-should have a regular, complete skin examination as part of their routine health care," says Hollenbeak. "In addition, kidney transplant recipients should be educated about melanoma and instructed on the importance of routine self-examination."
In the largest study to date, Hollenbeak and his colleagues compared melanoma incidence rates from a registry of renal transplant patients (89,786 patients) to melanoma incidence rates from general population data.
Of the various types of skin cancer, melanoma is one of 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.
Prior studies have shown that patients taking immunosuppressants after organ transplantation to be at higher risk for all cancers, but disagree that there is a link to higher risk of skin cancer. The baseline low incidence of melanoma in the general population may
Contact: Rebecca Haner