How much does immunosuppression increase the risk for basal cell carcinoma (BCC)?

Updated: Mar 02, 2020
  • Author: Robert S Bader, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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A modest increase in the lifetime risk of BCC has been noted in chronically immunosuppressed patients, such as recipients of organ or stem cell transplants and patients with AIDS.

Organ transplant patients must be instructed to limit sun exposure and alerted that skin cancer is a serious problem for them. In fact, immunosuppression and sun damage may cooperate to cause skin cancer. The skin cancer incidence is 10-fold higher in transplant patients than in the general population; up to 65-75% of patients with long-term immunosuppression develop skin cancer. Skin cancers can significantly alter and reduce the transplant recipients’ quality of life; some patients may develop more than 100 skin cancers per year.

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