Basal cell carcinoma in five albino Africans from the south-eastern equatorial rain forest of Nigeria

Maurice E Asuquo, Pius Agweye, Gabriel Ugare, Godwin Ebughe
International Journal of Dermatology 2007, 46 (7): 754-6

BACKGROUND: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common cutaneous malignancy in the white population and occurs infrequently in dark-pigmented individuals. Albinism is an established risk factor for skin cancer in black Africans.

METHODS: We evaluated the clinical histories and treatment outcomes of patients with a histologic diagnosis of BCC, who were seen at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria between January 2000 and December 2004.

RESULTS: Five albino Nigerians (two men, three women) with BCC represented 8% of the patients with cutaneous malignancies observed during the 5-year period. The five patients ranged in age from 21 to 60 years (mean, 38 years); six BCCs (67%) were located in the head and neck area, and three tumors (33%) involved the upper limbs. Lesions were removed by excision with primary closure, except for large fleshy tumors that were treated by excision and electrocautery. During evaluation from 9 months to 3 years after treatment, all sites appeared healed, and there was no evidence of recurrence or new tumors.

CONCLUSIONS: Albinism and environmental exposure to ultraviolet light were identified as risk factors for the development of BCC. Implementation of public education strategies concerning prevention would improve the prognosis and healthcare costs associated with these tumors.

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