Skin cancer chemoprophylaxis in renal transplant recipients: 5 years of experience using low-dose acitretin


Dr. McKenna Department of Dermatology, Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh EH3 9YW, U.K.


Renal transplant recipients have an increased risk of developing skin cancers, which are often multiple and aggressive. Frequently, these tumours develop on a background of widespread epidermal dysplasia. Systemic retinoids are known inhibitors of skin cancer but reports of their use in renal transplant patients are limited. We describe our experience using 0.3 mg/kg daily of acitretin in 16 patients over a 5-year period. Overall, there was a significant reduction in the number of new tumours excised in 12 of 16 patients during treatment compared with the same pretreatment interval. A significant chemoprophylactic effect was shown for up to 4 years of treatment. Patients with five or more tumours prior to acitretin benefited most. Two patients discontinued treatment because of side-effects and two patients developed hyperlipidaemia. Two patients with end-stage graft failure proceeded to haemodialysis. The introduction of low-dose acitretin proved to be a useful strategy in the long-term reduction of skin cancer in renal transplant recipients with multiple skin cancers and extensive epidermal dysplasia.