Identifying and characterizing basal cell carcinomas in persons with albinism

Margit L.W. Juhasz, Melissa K. Levin, Andrew Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Historically, persons with albinism (PWA) were thought to develop squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) more frequently than basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Recent evidence suggests BCCs in PWA are more common than initially hypothesized. Objective: To characterize the presentation of BCC in PWA. Methods: Fifty-four PWA with lesions suspicious for non-melanoma skin cancer sought care at Tanzanian dermatologic clinics from 2017 to 2019. Demographic and clinical presentation data were recorded. Histologic analysis of each sample was completed. Results: The majority of PWA were female (53.7%), with a mean age of 34.6 ± 14.9 years and a mean duration of disease of 0.70 ± 0.73 years. Physician description of histologically proven BCC included ulceration (41.7%), erythema (16.7%), and scale (16.7%). Lesions were most commonly located on the trunk (47.1%) and face (41.2%). Histologic analysis demonstrated 30.2% of lesions were BCC, 26.4% SCC, and 17% Bowen's disease. Limitations: Patient population was limited to those visiting clinics, and data were limited by accuracy of the medical record. Conclusions: Basal cell carcinoma occurs at a higher rate than SCC in our population, suggesting BCC in PWA is underdiagnosed. It is important to recognize BCC early in PWA to avoid large disease burden and high rates of morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1082-1091
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Dermatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


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