Risk factors associated with the development of skin cancer after liver transplantation

Authors

  • Abigail B. Mithoefer,

    1. From the Division of Transplantation, New England Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
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  • Stacey Supran,

    1. From the Division of Transplantation, New England Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
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  • Richard B. Freeman MD

    Corresponding author
    1. From the Division of Transplantation, New England Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
    • Division of Transplant Surgery, New England Medical Center, Box 40, 750 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111. Telephone: (617) 636-5592; FAX: (617) 636-8228
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Abstract

Skin cancer is a well-recognized long-term complication of transplantation and immunosuppression. Although risk factors for the development of skin cancer in the general population are well defined, risk factors for the development of these lesions have not been identified clearly in the liver transplant population. We surveyed 151 liver transplant (LTx) recipients for risk factors associated with cutaneous malignancies in the general population. Variables included were: demographics, primary liver disease, severity of disease at LTx, immunosuppression history, complexion, hair color, eye color, tanning profile, number of moles, occupational history, sun exposure history, sunburn history, family history of skin cancer, and any history of removed skin lesions. All skin cancers were confirmed histologically. There were 86 documented skin cancers in 34 patients: 56 squamous cell, 23 basal cell and 7 melanomas. Median follow-up was 1490 days. In a univariate analysis, age, male gender, red hair, brown eyes, primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), primary biliary cirrhosis (protective), cyclosporine, number of second degree sunburns, and frequent lifetime sun exposure were associated with the development of new skin cancers. In a multivariate model, age, male gender, red hair, brown eyes, PSC, and cyclosporine remain the strongest predictors. The incidence of skin cancer after liver transplantation is underestimated. In particular, there is a higher incidence of squamous cell carcinoma compared with the general population. Recipients with identified risk factors may be candidates for prophylactic treatment and should be followed more intensively after liver transplantation.

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