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Patient Alert: New Study Finds Most Organ Transplant Patients Are Unaware of Their Increased Risk for Skin Cancer
Date:2/1/2008

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- As the number of organ transplants continues to increase throughout the world, so too are the number of organ transplant recipients developing skin cancer. Due in large part to the immunosuppressive medications required to prevent organ rejection, skin cancer among patients receiving solid organ transplants -- such as kidney, heart, liver, or lung, among other organs -- also tends to be more aggressive and spreads more quickly than in other patients. Now, new research demonstrates the need for more comprehensive patient education and management of skin disease in transplant patients to try to reverse these rising skin cancer rates.

Speaking today at the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), dermatologist Summer R. Youker, MD, FAAD, assistant professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., discussed the reasons why organ transplant patients failed to see a dermatologist and did not practice proper sun protection, despite educational efforts advising these practices.

"Educating transplant patients about the risk of skin cancer is essential, but multiple studies have shown that education during their hospital stay is not retained by patients and is not enough to change patient behavior regarding sun protection," said Dr. Youker. "Our findings confirmed that the majority of transplant patients surveyed did not know they were at risk of developing skin cancer, and many of the reasons they gave for not practicing proper sun protection or seeing a dermatologist could be remedied by developing an intensive educational approach that raises awareness of the prevalence of this real health threat."

In 2006, there were 29,000 solid organs transplanted, contributing to a total of 223,000 people living with functioning organ transplants in the United States at the end of that year. The incidence of skin cancer in solid organ transplant recipients
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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