It has now been well documented that skin cancer constitutes between 37 – 50% of all neoplasms in transplanted patients (5). It is known that there is a strong link between administration of immunosuppresants and skin cancer. The risk of skin cancer can be reduced by sun protection in a general population and there are suggestions that this will reduce the risk in immunosuppressed patients as well. This will require further randomized trials.
In this study we investigated whether patients felt they had received sufficient information with regard to the effectivness of sunprotection in relation to the risk of skin cancer. 54 kidney transplanted patients participated in this survey. The data was collected by questionnaires posted to 100 patients.
According to the patients` information 13 % had developed skin cancer (n=7). Interestingly it was shown that 57% of patients who developed skin cancer were on immunosuppressive therapy for more than 15 years. This reaffirms the previously known link between immunosuppressives and skin cancer.
It was also revealed that 30% of the study group did not receive any information regarding increased risk of skin cancer with usage of immunosuppressive drugs. Not surprisingly most the above group were transplanted more than 15 years ago. This shows that the quality of information given to patients is improving, however still 17.6% (3/17) of patients who received an organ transplant within the last 5 years have not been given sufficient information. This underlines the fact that patient education is not satisfactory.
The fact that 86% of patient who received information about the increased risk changed their sun behaviour shows the effectiveness of educating patients.
We think that education by physicians may help OTRs to acknowledge that they are at increased risk of skin cancer and may motivate them to practice sufficient sun protection. This could be achieved by providing the patients with basic information at the time of organ transplantation and during follow-up sessions.