Patients who undergo an organ transplant are likely eagerly awaiting the day they’re given the good news that their transplant was a success and that they can begin to head down the path toward recovery. However, getting right back to normal isn’t always the best approach, as cancer after transplants is a serious concern that patients and their physicians need to be vigilantly seeking to prevent.
Increased Risk for Cancer
Cancer in transplant patients is nearly twice as common—and, by some estimates up to 100 times—as the rate of diagnosis in non-transplant patients. While research continues into the reasons, many studies have suggested the link between transplant patients and cancer lies in the immunosuppressive medications transplant patients take to help their body adjust to the transplant. While these regimens are highly successful at preventing the body from rejecting the new organ, they also greatly weaken the immune system, which can leave cells open to cancer infection. Another hypothesis is that immune-suppressed people are at greater risk than others for certain viral infections, which may also play a role in promoting cancer growth.
The Risk of Skin Cancer
While cancer in transplant patients can span many different types, skin cancer is among the most common, particularly cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, a less common type of skin cancer among the general population. Basal cell carcinoma and melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, are also seen more often in transplant populations.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Cancer After Transplants?
First, patients should be educated on the risks of transplants before their surgery; while few would avoid the potentially lifesaving procedure, it’s vital to be prepared and aware. Part of the awareness involves taking preventative steps to reduce the risk for developing cancer. Before a transplant, patients should visit a dermatologist to get a full-body skin evaluation; that way, the doctor can perform periodic check-ins after the surgery to ensure there are no new growths or abnormalities. The dermatologist and oncologist should also be in touch to ensure both are involved in the treatment plan. Patients should also avoid sun exposure whenever possible and, any time they do go outside, should use a highly protective SPF sunblock.
Cancer after transplant is an unfortunate reality but, with education and proactive steps, patients can reduce their risk and make getting and staying healthy a reality.
How Can a Living Benefit Loan Help You After a Transplant?
Life Credit specializes in providing financial help to those with serious illnesses through our Living Benefit Loan program. Life Credit’s Living Benefit Loans have helped patients with the following diagnoses:
- Seniors with Chronic Disease
- ALS Patients
- Alzheimer’s Patients
- Congestive Heart Failure Patients
- Stage IV Renal Failure Patients
- End-stage Liver Disease Patients
Contact Life Credit at 888-274-1777 to find out how to qualify to borrow from your life insurance’s death benefit.