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Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer Guide
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Follow Up Care

Not all transplant recipients will develop skin cancer, however all transplant patients are encouraged to examine their skin for worrisome lesions once a month (see self skin-exams), follow-up with their dermatologist for regular skin checks, and practice adequate sun protection measures (see skin cancer prevention).

Transplant Patients should see a Dermatologist at least every 1-2 years for life:

Skin Exams
All OTRs should have head-to-toe skin examination by a dermatologist

Skin checks should occur at least once every 1-2 years or more frequently

Skin checks should start within 1 year following your transplant and should be continued for life

Since all organ transplant patients are at elevated risk for skin cancer, the most recent guidelines advise all transplant patients to have head-to-toe skin exams performed by a dermatologist at least every 1-2 years for the remainder of their lifetime. Sometimes, patients will be asked to visit their dermatologist more frequently, especially if they have multiple risk factors for developing skin cancer.

Some examples of risk factors that would indicate the need for more frequent skin exams are a prior history of skin cancer or a history of pre-cancerous skin lesions like actinic keratosis. Patients should visit their dermatologist within 1-year following their transplant to establish care. At minimum, transplant patients should see a dermatologist at least once every 1-2 years.

If you are a pre-transplant candidate and have a history of skin cancer, you should notify your transplant physician. Sometimes, you will be asked to have a skin examination with a dermatologist prior to your transplant. Alternatively, you should see a dermatologist within 6 months following your transplant to establish care. Any patient who has had skin cancer is at high risk for developing additional skin cancers in the future.

A rough guideline to the frequency with which transplant patients should be examined by a Dermatologist is given in Figure 1.

Patient Characteristic Frequency of
Dermatology Exam
No history of skin cancer or Actinic Keratosis Every 1-2 years
History of Actinic Keratosis Every 6 months
History of 1 non-melanoma skin cancer Every 6 months
History of multiple non-melanoma skin cancer Every 3 to 4 months
History of high risk SCC or melanoma Every 2 to 3 months
History of metastatic SCC Every 1 to 2 months
Figure 1: Guidelines for follow-up intervals based upon past skin history (Modified from (1))

SCC=squamous cell carcinoma

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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