WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- A new study says kidney transplant patients are nearly four times more likely to develop melanoma, a rare but deadly form of skin cancer.
The study published in the November issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, said kidney transplant patients who are receiving long-term immunosuppression have a 3.6-fold increase in the incidence of melanoma when compared to the general population and should receive regular complete skin examinations.
The classic risk factors for melanoma are ultraviolet radiation, commonly caused by sunburns, a suppressed immune system, and family history of abnormal moles.
Studies demonstrate that the immune system plays a critical role in monitoring the body for and destroying early cancerous cells, including melanoma, the article said.
Christopher S. Hollenbeak, Ph.D., of Penn State College of Medicine and his colleagues compared melanoma incidence rates from a registry of 89,786 renal transplant patients to general population data.
They found that the risk of melanoma increases 5 percent per year after the transplant. The risk is greatest in men and increases rapidly with age. In contrast, the risk for women is significantly lower than men and does not increase with age.