Your risk for cancer rises because your immune system is unable to work as well as it should.

  • Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in people who have had transplants. Skin cancer tends to grow more aggressively in people who take immunosuppressive medicines.
    Check your body often for any skin growth, sore or mole. See your primary care provider or a dermatologist right away if you notice something unusual.
  • There are special cancers that can occur in people who have weakened immune systems. Lymphoma is a cancer that starts in your body's lymph system. 

How to prevent cancer

  • Check your body often for unusual lumps, moles that change shape or color, discharge, drainage or both.
  • Tell your transplant doctor right away if you notice anything unusual. Do not wait until your next appointment.
  • Have a yearly physical exam with your regular doctor.
  • Follow the cancer screening tests guidelines.

How to treat cancer

Cancer can be treated by any of these:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiation therapy
  • other medicines
  • reduce your immunosuppressive medicines (Your risk of rejection will go up. Your transplant doctor may want you to have more biopsies to check for rejection.)

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Care After Heart Transplant, cvs-ah-95405 (1/18)
First Published: 01/06/2013
Last Reviewed: 01/19/2018