ActinicKeratosesNet Article
Transplant Patients Need Skin Exam Before Operation

Dermatologists recommend that all potential organ-transplant recipients receive a thorough skin examination by a dermatologist before undergoing a transplant operation. Medications used to prevent organ rejection suppress a patientís immune system so effectively that the risk of developing multiple actinic keratoses (AKs) and skin cancer increases dramatically. Additionally, the risk of an existing, and possibly unknown, skin cancer spreading jumps significantly after an organ-transplant operation. In fact, a recent U.S. report states that one-fourth of all deaths among heart-transplant recipients that occurred four years or more after a transplant operation were caused by squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.

Getting screened by a dermatologist before an organ-transplant operation allows existing lesions to be detected and treated before medication taken to prevent organ rejection causes immunosuppression. Immunosuppression, a risk factor for AKs and skin cancer, greatly increases the likelihood that AKs or skin cancer will develop, recur, or spread. During the screening, the patient also should learn how to perform a skin self-examination. Self-examinations are key to early detection and should be performed regularly after the operation. With early detection, most AKs and skin cancers can be successfully treated.

It also is vital that organ-transplant recipients follow a comprehensive sun-protection plan. This includes avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are the strongest; seeking shade when outdoors; wearing sun-protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat, pants, long-sleeved shirt, and sunglasses; applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher every day to skin that will be exposed to the sun; and re-applying sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or strenuous activity.

Reference:
Jancin, B. Transplant Patients Need Skin Cancer Consult. Skin & Allergy News. 2004 Mar;35(3):26.


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While prevention of AKs and skin cancer should begin early in childhood, it is never too late to adopt sun safe practices.

American Academy of Dermatology


 
 

 

 

 

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