The risk of transmitting cutaneous malignancy through skin transplantation: a literature-based risk assessment

Cell Tissue Bank. 2015 Dec;16(4):503-12. doi: 10.1007/s10561-015-9497-6. Epub 2015 Jan 29.


According to the European Union Tissues and Cells Directives donation of tissue is contraindicated in the presence of or a previous history of malignant disease, with the exception of cutaneous basal cell carcinoma. Skin cancer is the most common cancer. Due to ultraviolet light exposure and increasing life expectancy an increasing prevalence of malignant or premalignant skin lesions is observed, which may result in a decline of the availability of skin for transplantation. A risk assessment based on published studies and expert opinion was performed in order to investigate the risk of transmitting malignant or premalignant skin lesions through tissue transplantation, and more particular through skin transplantation. The scarcity of data concerning cancer transmission in tissue transplantation was challenging. Circumstantial evidence, available for organ transplantation, was used to develop the following policy proposal for skin transplantation and cutaneous tumours. Malignant melanoma is an absolute contraindication for the donation of skin and also of other tissues, whereas, non-lesional skin and other tissues of a donor with non-melanoma skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma) or with a premalignant skin lesion can be considered for transplantation. The above mentioned protocol proposal might serve as a prototype for analogous protocols for non-cutaneous malignancies.

Keywords: Cutaneous malignancies; Guidelines; Risk assessment; Tissue transplantation; Transmission.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Skin Transplantation / mortality*
  • Skin Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tissue Donors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Treatment Outcome