Prevalence and types of genital lesions in organ transplant recipients

Kumar S. Nadhan, Mary Larijani, James Abbott, Alden M. Doyle, Anthony W. Linfante, Christina Lee Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


IMPORTANCE Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common skin cancer diagnosed in solid organ transplant recipients (OTRs) and confers significant mortality. The development of SCC in the genital region is elevated in nonwhite OTRs. Viral induction, specifically human papillomavirus (HPV), is hypothesized to play a role in the pathophysiology of these lesions. OBJECTIVE To assess the prevalence and types of genital lesions observed in OTRs. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS This retrospective review included 496 OTRs who underwent full skin examination from November 1, 2011, to April 28, 2017, at an academic referral center. The review was divided into 2 distinct periods before a change in clinical management that took effect on February 1, 2016 (era 1) and after that change (era 2). Patient awareness of genital lesions was assessed. All lesions clinically suggestive of malignant tumors were biopsied and underwent HPV polymerase chain reaction typing. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Number and types of genital lesions, proportion of malignant tumors positive for HPV, and patients cognizant of genital lesions. RESULTS Of the total 496 OTRs, 376 OTRs were evaluated during era 1 (mean [SD] age, 60 years; age range, 32-94 years; 45 [65.2%] male; 164 [43.6%] white) and 120 OTRs were evaluated during era 2 of the study (mean age, 56 years; age range, 22-79 years; 76 [63.3%] male; 30 [25.0%] white). Overall, 111 of the 120 OTRs (92.5%) denied the presence of genital lesions during the history-taking portion of the medical examination. Genital lesions were found in 53 OTRs (44.2%), cutaneous malignant tumors (basal cell carcinoma and SCC in situ) in 6 (5.0%), genital SCC in situ in 3 (4.2%), and condyloma in 29 (24.2%). Eight of the 12 SCC in situ lesions (66.7%) were positive for high-risk HPV. Seven tested positive for HPV-16 and HPV-18, and 1 tested positive for high-risk HPV DNA but could not be further specified. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Genital lesions in OTRs are common, but awareness is low. All OTRs should undergo thorough inspection of genital skin as a part of routine posttransplant skin examinations. Patients with darker skin types are disproportionately affected by cutaneous genital malignant tumors and should undergo a targeted program of early detection, prevention, and awareness focused on the risk of genital skin cancer after transplant. High-risk HPV subtypes are associated with genital SCC in OTRs. Additional studies are warranted to identify significant risk factors for HPV infection and to assess the utility of pretransplant HPV vaccination in the prevention of cutaneous genital malignant tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA Dermatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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