Background Organ transplant recipients (OTRs) have 100-fold increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinomas. Cumulative exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the main risk factor and there is evidence that lack of dermatological surveillance may be responsible for poor levels of knowledge and photoprotection among OTRs.
Objectives This study evaluated whether routine consultation in a specialist OTR dermatology clinic improves understanding of skin cancer risk and compliance with photoprotection measures.
Methods A cross-sectional questionnaire-based study was performed in a specialist OTR dermatology clinic at Bart's and the London NHS Trust, London, U.K. The subjects were 399 white-skinned patients under surveillance in a renal transplant clinic, who were sent a postal questionnaire from the renal transplant clinic. The main outcome measures were responses to the questionnaire regarding photoprotective practices and skin cancer risk awareness.
Results Two hundred and ninety-two of 399 (73%) responded, of whom 89% had previously attended the specialist dermatology clinic. Ninety-six per cent recalled receiving photoprotection advice at least once (85% from dermatologists); 92% reported use of sunscreen; 88% specifically dressed to photoprotect themselves; 96% directly avoided sun exposure during summer; 68% were aware that an increased risk of skin cancer was the reason that extra photoprotective measures were important after a transplant. Photoprotective measures and level of skin cancer awareness were significantly lower in those responders who had never attended the specialist clinic. No obvious bias was identified among nonresponders.
Conclusions Skin cancer awareness and compliance with photoprotective measures in our patient population is generally greater than previously reported, suggesting that delivery of educational messages regarding skin cancer may be improved if provided in a specialist dermatological setting.