Organ Transplants Raise Melanoma Risk
Researchers from the John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Medicine have found that people who receive organ transplants are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma--the deadliest form of skin cancer--and usually after the cancer has already spread.
The team analyzed the data of 139,991 non-Hispanic white organ transplant recipients who were part of the Transplant Cancer Match Study. The researchers identified 519 cases of melanoma among these participants and assessed their risk factors for the disease, comparing it with that of the general population. They found that organ transplant recipients are twice as likely to develop melanoma as people who don't get organ transplants.
The researchers also found that melanoma patients who had undergone organ transplants were at three times greater risk of death than non-transplant recipients, regardless of the stage at which the melanoma was diagnosed.
The scientists suggested that the development of later-stage melanoma among organ transplant recipients may be linked with use of an immunosuppressive drug that halts the functioning of T cells, which is a type of immune cell. They recommended that transplant patients be closely observed for signs of melanoma before and after transplantation.