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Swiss Med Wkly. 2009 Jul 25;139(29-30):407-15. doi: smw-12725.

Swiss clinical practice guidelines for skin cancer in organ transplant recipients.

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  • 1Dermatologische Klinik, Universitätsspital Zürich, Kantonsspital St Gallen, Zürich, Switzerland. hofbauer@usz.ch


Patients with a solid organ transplant have increased in numbers and in individual survival in Switzerland over the last decades. As a consequence of long-term immunosuppression, skin cancer in solid organ recipients (SOTRs) has been recognized as an important problem. Screening and education of potential SOTRs about prevention of sun damage and early recognition of skin cancer are important before transplantation. Once transplanted, SOTRs should be seen by a dermatologist yearly for repeat education as well as early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin (SCC) is the most frequent cancer in the setting of long-term immunosuppression. Sun protection by behaviour, clothing and daily sun screen application is the most effective prevention. Cumulative sun damage results in field cancerisation with numerous in-situ SCC such as actinic keratosis and Bowen's disease which should be treated proactively. Invasive SCC is cured by complete surgical excision. Early removal is the best precaution against potential metastases of SCC. Reduction of immunosuppression and switch to mTOR inhibitors and potentially, mycophenolate, may reduce the incidence of further SCC. Chemoprevention with the retinoid acitretin reduces the recurrence rate of SCC. The dermatological follow-up of SOTRs should be integrated into the comprehensive post-transplant care.

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