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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

is up to 200-fold that of age-matched controls due mostly to the required immunosuppressive medications. Dr. Youker cited studies that show that as many as 82 percent of kidney transplant recipients develop skin cancer 20 years after transplantation, and a study of Australian heart transplant recipients found that 27 percent of deaths occurring four years after transplantation were due to skin cancer.

In Dr. Youker's study, a total of 298 solid organ transplant patients (65 percent males and 35 percent females) who attended the outpatient transplant clinics at Saint Louis University completed a two-page survey to evaluate their comprehension of skin cancer risk, their compliance with skin cancer preventive measures, and their attitudes about sunscreen use and skin screenings. Dr. Youker reported that 62 percent of respondents did not know they were at risk for skin cancer, and 73 percent of respondents stated that they were not informed about the risk of skin cancer following their organ transplant. In fact, only 21 percent of patients had seen a dermatologist since their transplant, with even less (14 percent) receiving annual skin exams.

Of the reasons respondents gave for not seeing a dermatologist, 64 percent said they "did not know about the increased risk" and 7 percent said that they "do not want to attend another doctor's appointment." Only 28 percent of respondents reported wearing sunscreen regularly, a slight increase from 22 percent who reported wearing sunscreen regularly before transplantation.

Reasons for not wearing sunscreen varied widely among survey participants -- 33 percent responded "I forget to put it on," 25 percent said "I don't think it is important to use sunscreen," 16 percent said they are "not in the sun very much," 11 percent said "I like looking tan," 8 percent said they "don't like the way it feels," and 5 percent said it "takes too much time to put on."

"Because the time around an organ transplantation i
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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