Transplant recipients are at elevated risk of melanoma and may have poorer outcomes than nontransplant recipients. We conducted a national, population-based, matched cohort study of Australian kidney transplant recipients and randomly selected members of the general population matched for age, sex, state and year of diagnosis with invasive cutaneous melanoma (1982–2003). Melanoma histopathological characteristics were extracted from cancer registry notifications and death data were obtained from the National Death Index (1982–2011). Histopathology was compared using conditional logistic regression and overall survival analyzed using Cox proportional hazard models. Compared to melanomas in nontransplant recipients (n = 202), melanomas in transplant recipients (n = 75) had a higher Clark's level (p = 0.007) and higher American Joint Committee on Cancer pathologic stage (p = 0.002), but not Breslow thickness (p = 0.11). Posttransplant melanoma conferred higher risk of death (adjusted hazard ratio 4.26, 95% CI 2.71–6.72, p < 0.001) after adjustment for the matching variables, pathologic stage, histological type and anatomic site. This was not explained by transplantation alone. Melanomas in transplant recipients are more invasive than those in nonrecipients. More aggressive tumor behavior is also supported by a markedly poorer outcome. Treatment algorithms developed for the general population with melanoma may not apply to transplant recipients. A review of patient education and skin cancer screening guidelines is warranted.
In a population-based, matched cohort study of Australian kidney transplant recipients and nonrecipients with melanoma, the authors find that transplantation is associated with a fourfold increased risk of death after controlling for stage and other prognostic factors.