Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S, and it’s most often caused by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure from the sun. However, there are special populations that are at a heightened risk of skin cancer. By raising awareness of these risk factors, patients can seek out professional guidance for preventing this disease.
The immune system is responsible for preventing cancer and fighting disease. This puts patients with a weakened immune system at a higher risk of falling ill, getting infections, and developing cancer, including skin cancer.
Some of the reasons for having a weakened immune system include:
- Infection with HIV
- Autoimmune conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic diseases, such as chronic kidney disease and diabetes mellitus
- Issues with the spleen
Organ Transplant Patients
Organ transplant patients are at a significantly higher risk of developing skin cancer than the general population. While squamous cell carcinoma and Kaposi sarcoma are the most common skin cancer types among organ transplant patients, many of these patients develop melanoma or basal cell carcinoma.
The reason behind the higher skin cancer risk in this population is due to the immunosuppressive medications administered to prevent the body from rejecting the organ draft. Since the medications given to organ transplant patients suppress the immune system, the risk of developing skin cancer is higher in this population.
Cancers including leukemias, lymphomas, and myeloma can suppress the immune system. This may increase the risk of also developing skin cancer. Additionally, cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy or radiotherapy are at a higher risk for skin cancer.
Xeroderma Pigmentosum Patients
Xeroderma pigmentosum, or XP, is a hereditary condition that causes extreme sensitivity to UV rays from the sun. XP typically shows up in early childhood and greatly increases the risk of developing skin cancer. Over the course of their lifetime, most xeroderma pigmentosum patients develop more than one skin cancer.
For comprehensive care for skin cancer, schedule an appointment at The Bowman Institute today!