NY State's First Skin Cancer Clinic for Transplant Patients Opens at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia

Transplant Recipients at Much Greater Risk for Skin Cancers

Dec 14, 2006


For the more 350,000 American organ transplant recipients, the risk of skin cancer is many times greater than for everyone else. A new skin clinic for organ transplant recipients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, a first of its kind for New York State, offers skin cancer screening, education and treatments specially designed for these patients.

It is estimated that 70 percent of organ transplant patients will develop skin cancer within 20 years after surgery due, in part, to the effect of the immunosuppressive drugs required for all transplant patients. Sun exposure is the primary risk factor for the development of skin cancer and the only preventable factor.

"The goal of our Clinic is to be proactive in preventing and treating skin cancers in transplant patients by providing early direct access to dermatologists to educate them about their increased skin cancer risk, to teach effective methods of sun protection and to treat skin cancers in the earliest stage," says Dr. Danielle Engler, director of Resident Dermatology Clinics at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Open to all transplant patients, the clinic is staffed by medical and surgical dermatologists. Patients are given full-body skin exams and their skin cancer risk assessed. Premalignant lesions are treated and any suspicious skin cancers are biopsied and treated. Patients who have had skin cancers or who have significant sun damage may be treated with medications such as oral or topical retinoids as a measure to prevent cancer. The patient's immunosuppressive drug regimen may sometimes be adjusted in consultation with the transplantation physician.

"Going forward, we will offer patients clinical trials for novel therapies," says Dr. David Bickers, dermatologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia and Carl Truman Nelson Professor and Chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Heather Rogers, a dermatology resident at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, was instrumental in establishing the clinic.

Compared to the general population, the rate of squamous cell carcinoma is 65-fold higher, the rate of basal cell carcinoma is 10-fold higher and the rate of melanoma is three-fold higher in organ transplant recipients. Furthermore, skin cancers for transplant patients occur in greater numbers may be more aggressive with increased risk of recurrence and metastasis than tumors occurring in the general population.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia has performed more heart transplantations than any institution in the U.S. and is a leader in kidney transplantation. The Hospital also performs lung, liver and pancreas transplants.

For more information, patients may call 866-NYP-NEWS.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital – based in New York City – is the nation's largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,224 beds. It provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Allen Pavilion and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the largest and most comprehensive health-care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education, and community service. It ranks sixth in U.S.News & World Report's guide to "America's Best Hospitals," ranks first on New York magazine's "Best Hospitals" survey, has the greatest number of physicians listed in New York magazine's "Best Doctors" issue, and is included among Solucient's top 15 major teaching hospitals. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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