Organ transplantation and outcomes in patients with a past history of melanoma: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Clin Transplant. 2021 Jun;35(6):e14287. doi: 10.1111/ctr.14287. Epub 2021 Apr 7.


Background: The incidence of melanoma is steadily rising around the world. There is uncertainty about the safety of solid organ transplantation in patients with a prior history of melanoma.

Aim: To review studies reporting patients with a history of melanoma before solid organ transplantation.

Methods: Electronic searches of Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane library up to March 2020. All study designs, in any language and without sample size restriction, were eligible for inclusion. Risk of bias was assessed using established tools, and meta-analysis was performed using a random-effects model.

Results: We identified 41 studies reporting 703 100 transplant recipients and 1692 had pre-transplantation melanomas. Risk of death, expressed as a hazard ratio, in patients with pre-transplantation melanoma relative to those without prior melanoma, was 1.32 (95% CI: 1.09-1.59). After transplantation, 13.1% of patients with pre-transplantation melanoma developed new or recurrent melanoma (IQR: 4.8%-18.2%).

Conclusions: Around 1-in-400 transplant recipients had a prior history of melanoma. This was associated with a greater than 1-in-10 risk of new or recurrent melanoma after transplantation and an increased risk of death. A 5-year waiting time between a melanoma diagnosis and transplantation has been recommended based on historic registry data, but very little additional information is available to justify or revise this.

Keywords: melanoma; meta-analysis; solid organ; systematic review; transplantation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / etiology
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Skin Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Transplant Recipients