MONDAY, Feb. 21, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Educating kidney transplant patients about their risk for skin cancer helps increase rates of skin self-examination and follow-up with a dermatologist, researchers have found.
"In the United States, an estimated 100,000 living kidney transplant recipients are at risk to develop cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma [malignant tumors occurring in the skin that can spread to other organs]," wrote Dr. June K. Robinson, of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues.
"Most kidney transplant recipients with a first squamous cell carcinoma develop multiple skin cancers within five years, and some develop more than 100 skin cancers within a year," they noted.
The new study included 75 kidney transplant recipients returning for routine care with their kidney specialist between one and seven years after they had their transplant. The patients were randomly assigned to an intervention group (38) or a control group (37).
The patients in the intervention group were given printed educational materials to promote skin self-examination. The patients in the control group did not receive the educational materials.
Follow-up revealed that patients in the intervention group were much more likely to perform skin self-examinations than those in the control group -- 89 percent vs. 22 percent.
None of the eight control group patients who performed skin self-examinations found areas of concern. But 12 of the 34 intervention group patients who checked their skin did find areas of concern and all 12 made follow-up appointments with a dermatologist, the study authors noted.
"The educational intervention effectively increased awareness of the kidney transplant recipients' risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and provided sufficient training to enhance self-efficacy in their ability to detect an area of concern," the researchers concluded.
The findings were published in the Feb. 21 online edition and in the June print issue of the Archives of Dermatology.
The American Cancer Society has more about skin cancer.