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HealthInfo Canterbury

Skin cancer checks for immune-suppressed people

Skin Cancer ChecksAs well as preventing infections, the body's immune system helps prevent skin cancers. This means that when the immune system has been suppressed by medications, more skin cancers can grow, they can grow faster and are more likely to spread around the body than in non-suppressed people.

Local research has shown that patients who are organ transplant recipients are more likely than not to grow a skin cancer within eight years of their transplant and from then on grow a new skin cancer or two each year. Everyone is different, and so each patient receiving any organ transplant should have a skin check by a dermatologist and then regular skin checks by either their GP or a specialist.

You can reduce the chance of skin cancer developing in the future by limiting harmful sun exposure. You can reduce the chance of skin cancer causing problems by detecting it early and having it removed before it spreads.

How will my skin checks be managed?

If I need treatment how will this be arranged?

Patients presenting with skin lesions should have their skin cancers removed within four weeks of referral. Please phone the Burwood Plastics Procedure Unit (03) 387‑1327 if you have not received an appointment within three weeks.

If serious skin cancers occur, then the immune-suppressant drugs may be reviewed.

Written by Plastic Surgery Department, Christchurch Hospital. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers, April 2014.


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Page reference: 87517

Review key: HISUS-87517