Drexel University College of Medicine recently conducted a study on skin cancer in people of color—especially blacks. The common assumption is that black people do not contract skin cancer due to the amount of melanin in the skin. Investigators are learning that those that are taking immunosuppressants (e.g. post organ transplant) may be at higher risk for skin cancer. The new Drexel study suggests that all organ recipients should receive skin cancer screenings—regardless of race.
The Louisiana Weekly reported that Drexel researchers evaluated 259 non-white transplant recipients during the study. At the end of the study, 19 cancerous lesions were found among six Black patients, five Asian patients and four Hispanic patients.
Lead investigator Christina Lee Chung, MD noted “once physicians began to realize there was a significant number of transplant patients dying from skin cancer, there was a push to prevent it.” The investigator noted that much of the focus has been on Whites (Caucasian) transplant population—traditionally more susceptible to skin cancer. Generally fair-skinned patients are more likely to receive a full-body evaluation from a dermatologist than minority groups. Now the taking of immunosuppressants may change this.
Christina Lee Chung, MD, associate professor of dermatology, College of Medicine and Director of Drexel Dermatology Center for Transplant Patients.