General — TransplantLyfe

General

Dermatology appointments

meghansmithTransplant Patient
Updated May 27, 2021 in General

How often do you visit the dermatologist post-transplant? I know that skin cancer is a big concern while taking immunosuppressants. I just reached the 1 year mark and have my first appointment in a few weeks. Curious if this a yearly appointment or if anyone has had any skin cancer diagnoses / goes to the derm more often? What actions do you take to try to avoid getting skin cancer?

1 - 8 of 8 Replies

  • Morlie822Transplant Patient

    I see my dermatologist every 4 months and call in between if I have a concern.

    I've had a few cancers removed in 2 yrs post.

    December 30, 2020
  • KarinExpert
    Transplant Patient

    @meghansmith I see my derm at least three times yearly - not during covid though :-(, to make sure nothing is looking odd. Thanks to this regular schedule I have had three cancers removed already, before they got too bad - it is definitely worth it!

    December 30, 2020
  • JimGleasonTransplant Patient

    While I visit with my transplant dermatologist every 6 months (confessing being behind in that with this pandemic keeping us home and away from non-essential in-person clinic visits), I wanted to share my personal experiences that there are dermatologists and then there are dermatologists that specialize in treating transplant patients. Early on my 26 year life journey with a heart transplant, I had used local dermatologists in various locations where I had lived and was happy with them given their pretty easy going exams. One day, with a Penn dermatologist who specialized in treating transplant patients doing a presentation to our support group, I was moved by a slide showing a man's cheek opened up, being 17 years post heart transplant, the seam as I was at the time, his story was that he had waited too long and despite extensive surgery died a few months later of that cancer that had spread. I had often mistakenly not felt that skin cancer was very important, being on the body surface as it was. From that presentation I learned that any cancer can get into the blood stream and move (metastasize) to any part of the body, too often, if left undetected, could become fatal! Becaue others so praised this doctor's work (Dr. Chris Miller of Penn Medicine in Philadelphia), that I sosught him out and discovered what a real skin exam should be, especially for a high risk patient that we as transplant recipients are. I've been with him ever since with many cancers and pre-cancers treated successfully without pain despite some even requiring a skin transplant treatment, and without disfigurement post-surgery. So despite the tradeoffs of a very close-by excellent dermatologist (no travel, no bridge tolls, no parking fees, etc.), I only go to Chris in downtown Philadelphia for the last decade or more and am alive to share that story today. There is a difference! As transplant recipients, we need that specialized support, so don't take the easy way out as I used to do. If you want to know more about your increased risk for cancers as a transplant recipient, check out the new TRIO Post-transplant Cancer web site at https://TRIOwebPTC.org

    December 30, 2020
  • KarinExpert
    Transplant Patient

    @JimGleason you are so very right - do not "just" see a derm - see a medical derm or even better one w transplant experience. Most derms are focused on cosmetics and better at giving botox than they are at detecting cancers.

    We are at 100 x higher risk for cancer of the skin that people without a transplant.

    https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/organ-transplant-and-skin-cancer-risk#:~:text=Organ%20transplant%20patients%20are%20at,cell%20carcinoma%20and%20Kaposi%20sarcoma.

    December 30, 2020
  • JimGleasonTransplant Patient

    "Amen!" to your comment, Karin. Thanks for the link.

    December 30, 2020
  • meghansmithTransplant Patient

    @JimGleason such a good point! At Hopkins we are automatically referred to the transplant dermatology team - definitely important to see derms who are familiar with our unique situations!

    December 31, 2020
  • MichaelGrahamHuffTransplant Patient

    Wow, I did not realize most of this information. While I knew that dermatology appointments were necessary, I did not fully comprehend the odds we face. I went to my local dermatologist a few weeks ago. I had a popular form of Fungus on my chest that forms after exposure to the sun and sweat. Fortunately, It went away with a medicated shampoo.

    I am a little anxious about the likelihood of cancer, but at least I know it can be treated if found early. Thank you everyone for sharing!

    • Michael Huff
    January 2, 2021
  • lescp3Care Partner

    Karin, I am so glad you are "on this" so thoroughly...let's make sure we don't let Covid keep us from these important appointments. How are we managing this need to be vigilant with thorough skin checks through Covid? Any remote / telemedicine tools?

    January 3, 2021
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