A medicine that got rid of fungal infections in lung transplant recipients may in turn lead to a greater risk of tumors.
Voriconazole is a prescription drug that you cannot buy over the counter. This drug is employed to eradicate fungal ailments in those patients who have received lung transplants.
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However, the latest study shows that it not only increases the chances of skin cancer but, may lead to sudden death. The drug may have many benefits but it doesn’t come without its side effects, which are deadly.
UC San Francisco researchers conducted this new study. Their study appears online Sept. 3, 2015, in the American Journal of Transplantation.
Lung transplant recipients will have to be briefed on the supposed risks of the drug from now onwards. It’s part of the Hippocratic Oath in medicine to come clean. The patients will have to live with the consequences and there are certain measures they can take.
One of these is to protect themselves from unnecessary sunlight exposure. Routine skin cancer tests may lie in the future of such patients too. The prophylactic measures are significant and will have to be implemented if the risks are to be minimized.
The kind, dose and length of treatment also need to be titrated in accordance with the patient’s history and tolerance to the drug.
"It is important for physicians to be aware of the impact of voriconazole on these outcomes," said senior author Sarah Arron, MD, PhD, associate professor of dermatology and director of the UCSF High Risk Skin Cancer Clinic.
"We recommend that all providers counsel lung transplant recipients on skin cancer risk and photoprotection in addition to scheduling routine skin cancer screening with a trained dermatologist after transplantation. Lung transplant programs should also consider patient-specific risk factors when deciding on the type, dose and duration of antifungal prophylaxis regimens."
After any organ transplant, the first risk is skin cancer. It comes with the territory although there are no hard and fast rules about it. The only thing which can be done is to be vigilant and careful.
The immune system is suppressed because of the operation and organ transplant. A foreign body intervening into the biological system of a human being causes a virtual chaotic state of affairs.
The risk of developing skin cancer is 65% greater than the statistics among the average population. And the resultant cancer cells are the fiercest known to mankind. Precaution is of the essence.
The older the patient is, the more he or she is prone to contract the cancer. The drug Voriconazole was first issued by the FDA some 13 years ago. Its function is to erase the symptoms of TB or COPD.
The drug is powerful stuff and unfortunately does not come without its downside. Something too good to be true probably is not as good as it is made out to be. Everything has its price after all.
Each month after the lung transplant, the drug administration increases the chances of contracting skin cancer by a further 3%. Alternative drugs will have to be tested or discovered if doctors don’t want their transplant patients to end up six feet under.
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"Among lung transplant recipients with risk factors for SCC, including those with older age, male sex and white race or those in whom prolonged voriconazole administration may not have clear benefit, transplant physicians should consider limiting exposure to high doses of voriconazole or using alternative pharmacologic options that do not pose an increased risk for SCC," said lead author Matthew Mansh, MD, who did the work as a doctoral student at Stanford University that included a research year in the UCSF Department of Dermatology.