The Drug Azathioprine, which is used as an immunomodulating drug in patients with organ transplants, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune disorders is found to increase the incidence of skin cancer in these patients.
Professor Peter O'Donovan and colleagues from London Research Institute in Hertfordshire has found that Azathioprine accumulates in the DNA of the patient taking the drug and when the skin is exposed to sunlight, the Ultraviolet rays of the sun triggers mutations in the DNA causing skin cancers. It was found that the drug Azathioprine which is accumulated in the DNA interacts with UV-light forms an irreversible photoproduct. Azathioprine is used for treatment of auto immune disorders such as Lupus erythematous which involves multiple organs such as lungs, kidneys and joints, the dosage of the drug taken by these patients is equal to the risk of development skin cancer as mentioned in this study. The risk is avoided in these patients as these patients are already advised to keep away from sunlight.
When examination of the patients taking the Azathioprine was done, it was found that these patients were more and abnormally sensitive to UV rays, even to a dose of one to two minutes of sunlight exposure. Moreover, skin cancer is 50 to 250 times more common among transplant patients than general population. Due to accumulation of drug in the DNA interaction of the UV light with the skin increases the risk of skin cancer. The possibility of skin cancer occurrence also depends upon the dosage of the drug and duration of the drug taken. The risk of skin cancer in organ transplants is more due to long duration and increased dosage of the drug taken.
(Source: BBC News)
For Information on Skin Biopsy in Medindia:
Skin biopsy is taken when there is an infection or disease in the skin, which requires further examination. A small piece of tissue is cut with the help of the blade/ knife under sterile conditions, after cleaning the surface of the skin.