What is the prevalence of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in organ transplant recipients on long-term immunosuppressive treatment?

Updated: Jul 08, 2020
  • Author: Talib Najjar, DMD, MDS, PhD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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For organ transplant recipients on long-term immunosuppressive treatment, skin cancers account for 90% of all diagnosed malignancies. [17] In this group of patients, cSCC is more common than other keratinocyte-derived neoplasms, including BCC.

The use of immunosuppressive medications to prevent rejection in organ transplant recipients is associated with a 65- to 250-fold increased risk of developing SCC compared with the general population. [18] Additionally, organ transplant recipients have a high risk of developing further SCCs, with 66% developing a second SCC within 5 years of their first SCC diagnosis. [19]

The degree of risk correlates with the intensity of immunosuppression (ie, number and/or dosage of medications) typically required to prevent rejection in this patient population. For example, heart transplant recipients have 3 times the risk of SCC compared with kidney transplant recipients.

However, while the proportion of recipients developing new tumors is greater with heart transplants than with kidney transplants, the mean number of tumors per patient is higher in kidney transplant recipients. This may be due to a longer duration of immunosuppression in kidney transplant patients, who tend to be younger than patients who undergo heart transplantation. [19]

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