Skin surveillance of a U.K. paediatric transplant population

M A Thomson, N R Suggett, P G Nightingale, D V Milford, U Baumann, D A Kelly, C Moss, V A Hill
British Journal of Dermatology 2007, 156 (1): 45-50

BACKGROUND: Solid organ transplant recipients are at increased risk of skin cancer. Melanoma is less common than nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) although the relative proportion of melanoma among skin cancers has been shown to be higher in paediatric than adult recipients. Multiple melanocytic naevi and/or atypical naevi may be a risk factor for the development of melanoma. The relationship between naevus counts and phenotypic characteristics, disease-related variables and sun exposure has not been explored in paediatric transplant patients.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of premalignant and malignant skin lesions and to identify known risk factors associated with benign and atypical melanocytic naevi in a U.K. paediatric transplant population.

METHODS: Paediatric (< or = 19 years) renal and liver transplant patients, who were 5 or more years post-transplantation, were reviewed over 12 months. Lifetime history of sun exposure, episodes of sunburn, sunny holidays, sunscreen use, sun bed use, demographic and transplantation details were collected using interview, questionnaire and case note review. A skin examination was performed for regional counts of malignant lesions, benign and atypical naevi.

RESULTS: Ninety-eight patients (82 liver, 13 renal, three multiorgan) with a median follow up of 9 years (range 5-16) were reviewed. Neither skin cancer nor premalignant lesions for NMSC were detected in this group. Eighty-five patients had benign naevi (median 6, range 1-57). Clinical risk factors for increased counts of benign naevi included increasing age (P = 0.03), more episodes of sunburn (P = 0.003) and prolonged treatment with cyclosporin (P = 0.009). The presence of atypical naevi in six patients was significantly associated with more episodes of sunburn (P = 0.006) and more transplants (P = 0.04). Other variables including phenotype, skin type, sun exposure, holidays abroad, residence abroad and total duration of immunosuppression did not correlate with benign or atypical naevus counts.

CONCLUSIONS: Skin cancer was not observed in paediatric solid organ transplant recipients who were 5-16 years post-transplantation. Both benign and atypical naevus counts were higher in children with frequent episodes of sunburn. As both naevi and sunburn are risk factors for melanoma, we should target fair-skinned transplant recipients with naevi for intensive sun avoidance education. A prospective, longitudinal follow-up study should determine the onset of skin cancer post-transplantation and the significance of benign and atypical naevus counts in this cohort.

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