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Special Situations and Alterations in your Immunosuppressive Medications

  • In special situations your dermatologist may recommend radiation therapy or lymph node operations.
  • Alterations in your immunosuppressive medications may be considered if the development of numerous and aggressive skin cancers begins. This should only be considered with the extensive input of your complete transplant team as this may increase the risk of organ rejection and death in some cases.
  • Retinoids, such as acitretin and isotretinoin, are oral medications that may be recommended by your physician in an attempt to prevent or slow down the development of new squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas. These drugs often work well, but are only effective in suppressing skin cancers while one is taking the medicine. The effect rapidly diminishes if the medication is stopped. Many patients tolerate the medicine very well, but some have difficulties with side effects such as dry skin, dry lips and dry eyes, or hair loss. Cholesterol, triglycerides and liver enzymes must also be monitored by regular blood tests. Women who are pregnant or likely to become pregnant in the future should not take oral retinoids. The benefit of oral retinoids can be significant if a transplant recipient is developing numerous or aggressive squamous cell carcinomas and there are not other factors which would prevent the taking of this type of medicine.

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Updated on Friday, June 22nd, 2012

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