• Around  14% of patients develop a severe form of the disease within 25 years
  • After 13 years, their risk of developing any form of skin cancer is nearly 17%
  • This may be due to the immune-suppressing drugs given during a transplant 

Alexandra Thompson Health Reporter For Mailonline



Having a kidney transplant as a child increases your risk of developing cancer in later life.  

Within 25 years, 27 per cent of childhood kidney recipients develop non-melanoma skin cancer, which affects the upper layers of the skin.

Melanoma skin cancer, which can spread to other organs, occurs in 14 per cent of cases.

After 13 years, the risk of developing any form of skin cancer is nearly 17 per cent. 

This higher cancer risk may be due to the immune system-suppressing drugs patients are given during their transplant. 

Within 25 years, 27 per cent of childhood kidney recipients develop a form of skin cancer


Non-melanoma skin cancer affects more than 100,000 new people each year in the UK.

The first symptom is usually a lump or discoloured patch of skin that persists for a few weeks.

Melanoma skin cancer usually presents as a new mole or a change to an existing mole.

There were 15,419 new cases in the UK in 2014.   

Source: NHS Choices and Cancer Research  

Scientists from the University of Sydney analysed 1,734 patients who received a kidney in childhood.  

Experts warned the risk may be higher south of the equator.

Study author Dr Anna Francis told MailOnline: ‘The risk may be higher in Australia than many parts of the world as we have so much sun exposure, which drives skin cancer risk.’

There are habits patients can adopt to minimise their risk.  

Dr Francis, said: ‘Skin cancer risk can be reduced by sun safety such as sunscreen, hats, long sleeves and avoiding the midday sun.’

Despite the skin cancer risk, the benefits of treatment far outweigh the risks in children needing kidney transplants.

Dr Francis said: ‘Transplantation is overwhelmingly the best treatment for childhood end stage kidney disease, providing freedom from dialysis, improved quality of life, and decreased mortality and morbidity.’

The risk of other cancers in adults who received kidney or other organ transplants as children are unknown. 

Previous research has shown that 25 per cent of patients who live for 20 years after a transplant develop some form of cancer. 

The immune system is thought to be less able to fight tumours due to the suppressive drugs that are needed during a transplant to prevent the patient from rejecting the organ. 

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