Seminars to Educate Transplant Recipients about Skin Cancer Risk

June 08, 2005
News Office: Vanessa deGier (415) 502-6397

Organ transplant recipients have a high risk of developing skin cancer, but information about this deadly link has not been readily available to patients. Now UCSF Medical Center is offering a program to remedy the problem.

The departments of Dermatology and Transplant Surgery are collaborating in the first effort of its kind at UCSF to offer a series of seminars to educate transplant patients about the potential risk of skin cancer.

"Approximately one in 20 transplant patients die of skin related malignancies," said Dr. Bryan Cho, dermatology resident at UCSF. "This is because skin cancers that develop in transplant patients tend to be more aggressive, and there is a higher recurrence and metastatic rate."

The lectures will educate patients on the risk factors for skin cancer, appearance, early detection, preventive strategies and treatment options.

The first seminar, "Organ Transplant Recipients: Seminar on Skin Cancer Prevention and Treatment," will take place on June 13, from 5-7 p.m. in the Millberry Conference Center, 500 Parnassus Avenue.

Speakers will include Dr. Whitney Tope, associate clinical professor of dermatology; Dr. Ryutaro Hirose, transplant surgeon, assistant professor of surgery, and Dr. Isaac Neuhaus, clinical instructor of dermatology. The seminar will close with a question-and-answer session and reception.

In addition to offering seminars to the public, Cho and his colleagues are creating an educational web site for patients, staff and the general public. The site will provide background information on different types of skin cancer, risk factors and tips for avoiding cancer. A portion of the site will focus on organ transplant and serve as a resource for transplant patients. A video and brochure are also being developed to supplement the seminars and further promote public awareness of skin cancer among this at-risk population.

"Treating patients with skin cancers that were likely avoidable if they had practiced good sun protection earlier in life helped inspire me to take action," Cho said. "I knew through education, we could do more to prevent these cancers from developing in this patient population."

Cho, who spearheaded the creation of the series, is a resident in the High Risk Cancer Clinic at UCSF Medical Center. The clinic screens and treats transplant recipients for skin cancer, along with other high risk populations such as patients with genetic predispositions for skin cancer and patients who are immunosuppressed.

The seminar series is funded by the UCSF Dean's Office of Graduate Medical Education through the Patient Care Fund.

This news release has been modified for the website