Open Access Research article

Histological review of skin cancers in African Albinos: a 10-year retrospective review

Samson Kimaiyo Kiprono12*, Baraka Michael Chaula1 and Helmut Beltraminelli13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Dermatology, Regional Dermatology Training Center, P.O. Box 8332, Moshi, Tanzania

2 Department of Dermatology, Provincial General Hospital, P.O. Box 15-50100, Kakamega, Kenya

3 Department of Dermatology, Inselspital - University Hospital, Bern CH-3010, Switzerland

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:157  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-157

Published: 6 March 2014



Skin cancer is rare among Africans and albinism is an established risk for skin cancer in this population. Ultraviolet radiation is highest at the equator and African albinos living close to the equator have the highest risk of developing skin cancers.


This was a retrospective study that involved histological review of all specimens with skin cancers from African albinos submitted to The Regional Dermatology Training Center in Moshi, Tanzania from 2002 to 2011.


A total of 134 biopsies from 86 patients with a male to female ratio of 1:1 were reviewed. Head and neck was the commonest (nā€‰=ā€‰75, 56.0%) site affected by skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) was more common than basal cell carcinoma (BCC) with a ratio of 1.2:1. Only one Acral lentiginous melanoma was reported. Majority (55.6%) of SCC were well differentiated while nodular BCC (75%) was the most common type of BCC.


Squamous cell carcinoma is more common than basal cell carcinoma in African albinos.

Albinos; African; Skin Cancer