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Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer Guide
Transplant Patient Guide
Caring for Transplant Patients
Organ Transplant Immunosuppressed High Risk Skin Cancer Clinic
Tumor Board
Mohs Surgery
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Read more about:

Types of Skin Cancer

Risk Stratifying

Metastatic Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Prevention and Mangement

Clinical Skin Exam


Medical Treatment

Surgical Treatment



For Medical Professionals
  • Organ Transplant Recipients are at high risk for developing skin cancer.
  • Transplant patient's risk for skin cancer increases each year following transplantation.
  • Skin cancer in transplant patients can be life threatening and affect quality of life.

Information about Skin Cancer in Organ Transplant Recipients for Health Professionals

General information about Organ Transplantation:

>140,000 persons living in the US have solid-organ transplants
> 25,000 transplants are performed in the US annually

Organ Transplanted Number
Total 25,458
Kidney 15,129
Liver 5671
Pancreas 502
Kidney/Pancreas 871
Lung 1085
Heart/lung 29
Intestine 116

Table 1: Transplantation rates by organ in the United States in 2003

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High Incidence of Skin Cancer in Organ Transplant Patients

  • Most common malignancy in the setting of solid-organ transplantation and immunosuppression
  • Incidence of skin cancer is substantially increased with extended survival after organ transplant
  • NMSC accounts for 90% of all skin cancers in transplant patients
  • NMSC rate > 100x that of the general populations(1)
Skin Cancer Increase in Incidence
SCC   65-fold
SCC of lip   20-fold
BCC   10-fold
Melanoma   3.4-fold
Kaposi’s sarcoma   84-fold

Table 2: Population-based standardized incidence ratios of skin cancer in organ transplant patients(2)

Incidence of other NMSC are also increased

  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Eccrine carcinoma
  • Atypical fibroxanthoma (AFX)
  • Malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH)
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Cutaneous lymphoma

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Muitiple Skin Cancers can occur simultaneously:

  • Once a transplant patient develops a single NMSC
    • 25% will develop another NMSC within 13 months
    • 50% will develop additional skin cancer within 3.5yrs
  • As many as 12% of transplant patients may develop > 5 NMSC/year(3)

Risk Factors

O'Reilly et al(4) Carucci et al(5)
Increased age
Older age at transplant

Increased exposure to UV radiation

Sun exposure
Duration and intensity of immunosuppression
Intense immunosuppression
Fitzpatrick skin types I, II or III
Fair skin
Personal history of Actinic Keratoses, NMSC or melanoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, cutaneous lymphoma

History of Actinic Keratoses or skin cancer
Heart recipients > kidney recipients > liver recipients


Heart recipients
HPV infection
HPV 5 and 8
Male sex
CD4 lymphocytopenia  

Table 3: Risk factors for development of skin cancer post-transplantation

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Updated: May 4, 2007
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.
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