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People who received solid organ transplants (SOT) and survived after the operation have higher chances of dying early from cancer compared to the general population, as revealed by a new study in Canada.

Researchers in Toronto have found that those who undergo kidney transplant, liver transplant or other SOTs are up to three times more likely to die from cancer, with skin cancer among those posing the top risk for early death.

Despite the threats of cancer-related death, however, principal study author Dr. Nancy Baxter of St. Michael's Hospital, said dying from skin cancer is an uncommon cause of death, but it is an aggressive cancer.

Baxter, a colorectal surgeon, said both medical professionals and patients should be aware of this fact.

"It's really important for them to get that message because there are a number of things that transplant patients can do to reduce their risk of developing and having a serious problem related to skin cancer," she said.

How Patients Can Reduce Risks From Developing Skin Cancer

As skin cancer topped the list of cancers that cause early death in patients, Baxter said patients knowing about the risks will definitely be beneficial. She also said healthcare providers should focus on cancer screening and prevention.

Aside from getting regular skin checkups and avoiding extreme sun exposure, Baxter said patients should embrace widely accepted cancer prevention strategies. These include limiting the consumption of alcohol, avoiding smoking or quitting the habit, getting regular exercise, losing weight and eating a healthy diet.

Baxter and her colleagues also recommended SOT patients to use a personalized and tailored approach to cancer screening because some organized screening programs still have gaps. Some screening programs are not even effective at all.

Lung cancer screening with computed tomography (CT) scan may also overlook some lung transplant recipients, they said.

"We have to make sure we have a very tailored approach to these patients," said Baxter.

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