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Immunosuppressed patients face melanoma risk

Saturday October 13, 2012
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Transplant recipients and lymphoma patients are far more likely to get melanoma and to die from it, according to a study.

Those patientsí immune systems tend to be significantly depressed, making early detection of melanoma even more important, noted researchers with the Mayo Clinic.

Melanoma strikes roughly 1 in 50 people in the general population, said Jerry Brewer, MD, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist. The odds of getting melanoma are 2.5 times higher in people who have received a transplant or who have lymphoma.

Patients who have chronic lymphocytic leukemia and develop melanoma are 2.8 times more likely to die from metastatic melanoma, the researchers reported.

If melanoma is found earlier in such patients, they will likely have better chances of survival. "These patients with immunosuppression should be looking themselves over head-to-toe once a month, they should be seeing a dermatologist twice a year, and if they have a lot of risk factors, maybe more than that."

Brewer also advised using sunscreen, trying to avoid the sun and steering clear of tanning beds. The melanoma risk is so high in immunosuppressed patients that they should use sunscreen not only every day, but "almost as often as you brush your teeth," he said.

The study appears in the October issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings and is available online at http://tinyurl.com/8hs9y8e.

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