SUN PROTECTION PRACTICES IN PERSONS WITH ALBINISM AND THE NORMAL PIGMENTED POPULATION AND THE RISK OF CUTANEOUS MALIGNANCIES IN ANAMBRA STATE, NIGERIA.
Keywords:Sunprotection, Albinism, photo-dermatosis, dermatoheliosis, pre-malignant, malignant, tumours., skin cancer
Background: Skin cancers are relatively uncommon in black Africans despite a higher Ultraviolet (UV)
intensity. Consequently, little attention is paid to sun protection with few policies adopted to protect at-risk
individuals. Persons with albinism (PWA) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are at risk of developing cutaneous
malignancies due to the combined effect of diminished or absent melanin on their skin and the prevalent high
UV index. They are therefore obligated to practice photoprotection. There is a paucity of data on sun
protection practices and their relationship with cutaneous malignancies in Africans.
Objectives: To determine the sun protection practices of PWA and normal pigmented controls and their
relationship with cutaneous malignancies.
Methods: Interviewer-administered questionnaires were used to obtain information on sun exposure from
59 PWA and 58 age and sex-matched controls with normal pigmentation. Diagnosis of skin lesions was
clinical and/or histological.
Results: The PWA spent less time in the sun, [median 12 (0 – 64) hours/week] than the controls, [median 32
(0.2 – 70) hours/week], (p<0.001). Most PWA spent more time outdoors during times of maximum UV
intensity and did not adhere strictly to sun protection guidelines. There was no statistically significant
relationship between most sun protection practices and cutaneous malignancies.
Conclusion: Black Africans in Nigeria do not practice adequate sun protection. The absence of cutaneous
malignancies in the controls reiterates the protective role of melanin. The poor compliance of PWA to sun
protection in most domains explains the higher prevalence of malignant photodermatoses among them.
Keywords: Sun protection. Albinism. Skin cancers
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