Clinicopathologic features of skin cancer in organ transplant recipients: a retrospective case-control series

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 Feb;54(2):290-300. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2005.10.049.


Background: Non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs) are increased in organ transplant recipients, but transplant and immunocompetent squamous and basal cell carcinomas (SCCs, BCCs) have not been compared previously in a single-center study.

Objective: To compare clinicopathologic features of transplant and immunocompetent NMSCs.

Methods: Consecutive transplant NMSCs (60 SCCs, 100 BCCs) and immunocompetent NMSCs (40 SCCs, 125 BCCs) presenting between 1995-1997.

Results: Transplant patients were 15 years younger at time of NMSC diagnosis compared with immunocompetent individuals, and transplant tumors were often more multiple and extracephalic. Spindle cell morphology was more common in transplant SCCs, a superficial component was more common in transplant BCCs, and histologic features of HPV infection were overrepresented in transplant tumors. Outcome was worse for transplant SCCs but not transplant BCCs.

Limitations: Histologic features required to identify HPV infection have not been validated.

Conclusions: These findings have direct implications for clinical care. The increased frequency and distribution of transplant NMSCs underscore the importance of whole-body surveillance. Transplant SCCs, particularly those with diffuse spindle cell change, may require more aggressive management, whereas transplant BCCs do not. Finally, our data support differences in the pathogenesis of transplant NMSC, which may influence future preventive and therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / immunology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*