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Transplant Recipients Have Increased Melanoma Risk

They also have increased melanoma-specific mortality compared with nonrecipients

FRIDAY, Aug. 21, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Organ transplant recipients have an increased risk of invasive melanoma, especially for regional-stage tumors, according to a study published online Aug. 13 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Hilary A. Robbins, M.S.P.H., from the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Md., and colleagues examined the incidence of melanoma among 139,991 non-Hispanic white transplant recipients by using linked U.S. transplant-cancer registry data for 1987 to 2010. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were used to compare incidence to the general population, and risk factors were assessed using incidence rate ratios (IRRs). Post-melanoma survival was compared for 182 transplant recipients and 131,358 nonrecipients.

The researchers found that the risk of invasive melanoma was elevated among transplant recipients (SIR, 2.2), especially for regional-stage tumors (SIR, 4.11). After transplantation, the risk of localized tumors was stable over time, but risk was increased with azathioprine maintenance therapy (IRR, 1.35). Within four years after transplantation, the risk of regional/distant-stage tumors peaked, and there was an increase in risk with polyclonal antibody induction therapy (IRR, 1.65). Transplant recipients had increased melanoma-specific mortality compared with nonrecipients (hazard ratio, 2.98).

“Melanoma exhibits increased incidence and aggressive behavior under transplant-related immunosuppression,” the authors write. “Our findings support sun safety practices and skin screening for transplant recipients.”

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