Nonwhite organ transplant recipients (OTRs) are more likely to present with inflammatory or infectious conditions after transplantation, while white organ recipients more commonly present with malignant disease, new research suggests.

While the high incidence of skin cancers has been well described in patients who undergo solid organ transplants, little is known about the risk factors, incidence, locations, and types of skin disease that occur in nonwhite OTRs, wrote Christina Lee Chung, MD, from Drexel University, Philadelphia, and her coauthors in JAMA Dermatology.

In a retrospective review, the investigators examined the medical records of 412 organ transplant recipients treated at an academic referral center during 2011-2016, of whom 154 were white, 35 were Asian, 33 were Hispanic, and 190 were black (JAMA Dermatology. 2017 Mar 8. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.0045).

Among the white patients, malignant or premalignant disease was the most common diagnostic category (67.8%), followed by inflammatory (20.7%) and infectious processes (11.6%). However, among nonwhite organ transplant recipients, inflammatory processes were present in 48.8% of patients, infectious processes in 37.5% and the remaining 13.7% presented with malignant or premalignant lesions.

Black and Hispanic patients were more likely to present with inflammatory or infectious disease; only 8.6% presented with malignant conditions and 16% presented with premalignant disease.

Among the Asian patient population, one-third presented with malignant or premalignant, one-third presented with infectious, and one-third presented with inflammatory conditions.

“Although early detection and treatment of cancer is vital, nonwhite OTRs would also benefit from addressing nonmalignant processes that are exacerbated by immunosuppression,” the authors wrote.

Overall, 389 skin cancers were diagnosed, with squamous cell carcinoma in situ (SCC) the most common type of skin cancer diagnosed in each racial or ethnic group. The mean time between transplant and first skin cancer lesion was 12.67 years in black patients, 6.5 years in Hispanic patients, 6.13 years among white patients, and 3.75 years in Asian patients.

The vast majority of skin cancers (95.1%) were found in white patients. While the majority of lesions in white and Asian patients were found in sun-exposed areas, the few skin cancers seen in black patients were more likely to be found in sun-protected areas, particularly the genitals.

Four of the six genital SCCs tested positive for high-risk human papillomavirus strains – in one Asian patient and three black patients – while the two SCCs found on lower extremities in Hispanic patients tested negative for HPV.

Researchers also looked at skin cancer awareness among the organ transplant recipients using data from initial visit questionnaires. They found that more than 17 of the 22 (77.3%) white organ transplant recipients surveyed were aware their skin cancer risk was increased, compared with 30 of the 44 (68.2%) nonwhite patients.

Similarly, 72.7% of white patients surveyed were aware that sunscreen decreased the risk of cancer, compared with 59.1% of nonwhite patients; 27.3% of white patients reported using a daily sunscreen, compared with 13.6% of nonwhite patients.

“Based on our findings, we suggest that optimal posttransplant dermatologic care be determined based on the race or ethnicity of the patients; however, regardless of skin type or race or ethnicity, a baseline full-skin assessment should be performed in all patients,” the authors wrote.

They proposed that skin cancer follow-up screenings should be given to Asian and Hispanic patients immediately after transplant, but that black organ transplant recipients could delay yearly screenings.

However, they said routine skin checks should begin earlier after transplantation for all nonwhite transplant recipients with a history of, or clinically evident HPV infection.

No conflicts of interest were declared.