Is it true that a genetic condition like albinism increases the risk of skin cancer? About this on the International Albinism Awareness Day, which is celebrated on June 13, aif.ru told surgeon-oncologist of the National Medical Research Center of Oncology. N. N. Blokhin of the Ministry of Health of Russia, participant of the humanitarian action “Live without fear” for residents of the Republic of the Congo with albinism Igor Samoilenko.
How is albinism diagnosed?
With albinism, a person does not produce the pigment melanin, which protects the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. The most common type of this disease is oculocutaneous albinism. Such people have milky-white skin and practically no iris pigment. However, not all manifestations of albinism are the same. Sometimes a mutation is present in a person, but he is perceived simply as white-skinned.
As a rule, albinism is diagnosed in a child in the ophthalmologist’s office, since the genetic mutations that cause albinism are accompanied by visual impairment. Protecting the skin of a person with albinism is as routine as brushing your teeth.
Why is albinism dangerous for patients who live in Russia?
If ordinary people can afford to forget about the sun by going fishing somewhere in central Russia, then people with albinism should remember to protect themselves from sunlight everywhere and always. Even short-term exposure to the sun can lead to burns, and those, in turn, have every chance of resulting in serious health consequences.
As a rule, actinic (solar) lentigo appears at the site of the burn – a black-brown spot formed as a result of hyperstimulation of melanin cells. In people without albinism, lentigo occurs at the age of 60-70 years, provided that they have been actively sunbathing all their lives. In people with albinism, lentigo can be observed already in adolescents.
However, there are much more serious consequences – skin cancers – from squamous cell carcinoma to melanoma. Studies show that the risk of developing such diseases in people with albinism is tens and hundreds of times higher than in the rest. The chance depends on the type of cancer and age. The older the person with albinism, the higher the risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer in people with albinism is preventable – just use sunscreen and tight clothing (or thin, made from special fibers designed for high levels of solar activity). In this case, the risk of developing MN in people with albinism is no higher than in people without this disease. But it is important to emphasize here: protection is needed always and everywhere, even swimming in open water should be in clothes.
How are cancer patients treated with albinism?
Oncological treatment of people with albinism is no different from that of patients without it, however, there may be difficulties in diagnosis. The clinical picture, for example, of melanoma in a carrier of albinism will differ from the clinical picture of the same melanoma in a person with normal pigmentation. If there is a change in the state of pink spots on the skin, a person with albinism should consult a doctor if the pink spot that has appeared on the skin changes in any way within two to four months. With a high probability, the doctor diagnoses a benign change, but such alertness will allow you to see melanoma in time. Therefore, if something has appeared on the skin and is growing, you should definitely go to the doctor.