Organ transplant recipients benefit from seeing a dermatologist

After receiving an organ, a patient sees many medical specialists. A dermatologist plays an important role on this health-care team. The life-saving medicines that prevent organ rejection work by suppressing your immune system. This greatly increases your risk for developing skin cancer.

In organ-transplant recipients, skin cancer tends to be more aggressive. It can grow faster. It often spreads more quickly.

                Dermatologist examines organ-transplant recipient Dermatologist examines organ-transplant recipient: Skin cancer exams are important for all organ-transplant recipients.

Receive thorough skin exams

Found early and properly treated, most of these skin cancers can be cured. Under a dermatologist’s care, an organ-transplant recipient receives total body exams. These exams play an important role in finding skin cancers in their earliest and most treatable stage.

Learn skills that can save your life

Organ-transplant recipients who see a dermatologist also learn skills that can be lifesaving. They learn how to:

  1. Perform skin self-exams to find skin cancer early: Learning how to perform a skin self-exam can help patients find skin cancer early. Organ-transplant recipients learn how to perform a thorough skin self-exam. The instructions may be tailored to a patient’s needs. For example, a patient may need to pay close attention to a specific area of the body. Organ-transplant recipients also may need to learn how to examine their lymph nodes.
  2. Protect your skin to reduce risk of getting skin cancer: Findings from research studies show that sun protection reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) after receiving an organ. SCC is the most common skin cancer in transplant recipients. Sun protection includes:
  • Applying sunscreen every day before going outdoors: Make sure the sunscreen is broad-spectrum, SPF 30+, and water-resistant.
  • Seeking shade: This is especially important when your shadow is shorter than you are.
  • Wearing clothing that protects your skin: You will learn how to select clothing that protects your skin from the sun. Some fabrics protect better than others do.
  • Wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat: You will learn how to select hats and sunglasses that protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.

What dermatologists tell their patients who receive an organ
Never use a tanning bed, sunlamp, or other type of indoor-tanning equipment. Indoor tanning greatly increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

Never too late to benefit from dermatologist’s care

If you received an organ years ago, you can still benefit from being under a dermatologist’s care. Findings from research studies show that the risk of developing skin cancer increases each year after receiving an organ.

Some organ-transplant recipients develop many skin cancers. Some of these patients develop other skin conditions, including numerous warts and precancerous growths on their skin. A dermatologist can help you manage these skin conditions.

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