Young people who have received allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCTs) are more likely to wear hats, sunscreen and other sun protection, but still intentionally tan and experience sunburn at the same rate as their peers, new research suggests.
In a survey‐based, cross‐sectional cohort study, researchers compared sun-protection behaviors and sun exposure in 85 children aged 21 years and younger who had undergone HSCT and 85 age-, sex-, and skin type–matched controls. The findings were published in.
HSCT recipients have a higher risk of long-term complications such as skin cancer, for which sun exposure is a major modifiable environmental risk factor.
“Therefore, consistent sun avoidance and protection as well as regular dermatologic evaluations are important for HSCT recipients,” wrote Edward B. Li, PhD, from Harvard Medical School, Boston, and coauthors.
The survey found no significant difference between the transplant and control group in the amount of intentional sun exposure, such as the amount of time spent outside on weekdays and weekends during the peak sun intensity hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. More than one in five transplant recipients (21.2%) reported spending at least 3 hours a day outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, as did 36.5% of transplant recipients on weekends.
There were also no significant differences between the two groups in terms of time spent tanning, either in the sun or in a tanning bed. Additionally, a similar number of transplant recipients and controls experienced one or more red or painful sunburns in the past year (25.9% vs. 27.1%).
However, transplant patients did practice better sun protection behaviors than did the control group, with 60% reporting that they always wore sunscreen, compared with 29.4% of controls. The transplant recipients were also significantly more likely to wear sunglasses and a hat and to stay in the shade or use an umbrella.
“While these data may reflect that HSCT patients are not practicing adequate sun avoidance, it may also suggest that these long‐term survivors are able to enjoy being outdoors as much as their peers and have a similar desire to have a tanned appearance,” the researchers wrote. “While a healthy and active lifestyle should be encouraged for all children, our results emphasize the need for pediatric HSCT survivors to be educated on their increased risk for UV‐related skin cancers, counseled on avoidance of intentional tanning, and advised on the importance of sun protection behaviors in an effort to improve long-term outcomes.”
The researchers noted that transplant recipients were significantly more likely to have had a full body skin exam from a health care professional than were individuals in the control group (61.2% vs. 4.7%) and were more likely to have done a self-check or been checked by a partner in the previous year.
The study was supported by the Society for Pediatric Dermatology, the Dermatology Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation. One author declared a financial interest in a company developing a dermatological product. No other conflicts of interest were declared.
SOURCE: Li EB et al. Pediatr Dermatol. 2019 Aug 13.