birthmarks Skin cancer

Birthmarks Persons, Four Others At Risk Of Skin Cancer, See Them

birthmarks Skin cancer

Birthmarks, Four Others At Risk Of Skin Cancer, See Them

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A health expert has raised concerns about people with birthmarks being at risk of skin cancer.

In an article obtained from PUNCH HealthWise, a Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Nkechi Enechukwu disclosed this.

The skin doctor said the following four persons should ensure that they go for regular dermatological checks. They are:

  • Persons with large birthmarks.
  • Sunburn victims.
  • Albinism.
  • Organ recipients.

She said it is important for these persons to go for regular checkups to avoid complications.

She emphasized that early detection of skin cancer would stop the condition from deteriorating.

Enechukwu, a Consultant Dermatologist with Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, said this at the commemoration of Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, celebrated annually in May.

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Speaking during an interview, the dermatologist said:

“People who do not have albinism can also suffer from skin cancer. The singular most common factor is sun exposure but because we have some melanin, it kind of gives us a cover.

“Some people are born with very large birthmarks known as a giant congenital melanocytic nevus. With those large birthmarks, there’s an increased chance of those birthmarks transforming into melanomas.

“Some people also have birthmarks that are a bit abnormal from the normal regular birthmarks called a dysplastic nevus, those are birthmarks that are not so innocent but they are not cancers so those people who have a lot of dysplastic nevus have an increased chance of having skin cancers.”

What are birthmarks?

Birthmarks are known as a giant congenital melanocytic nevus. 

The US National Library of Medicine says it is a skin condition characterised by an abnormally dark, noncancerous skin patch (nevus) that is composed of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. It can be present from birth (congenital) or noticeable soon after birth.

The medical journal explains:

“Individuals with giant congenital melanocytic nevus have an increased risk of developing an aggressive form of skin cancer called melanoma, which arises from melanocytes.

“Estimates vary, but it is generally thought that people with giant congenital melanocytic nevus have a 5 to 10 per cent lifetime risk of developing melanoma.”

How are Organ Recipients exposed?

The dermatologist explained that the immunosuppressive medications organ recipients are on, expose them to the disease.

Her words: “People whose immune systems have been compromised, like organ transplant recipients, these people are on chronic immunosuppression because when you transplant an organ, the person will be on drugs for their lifetime, the essence of those drugs is to reduce the immunity so that the person’s body will not reject that transplanted organ, so those immunocompromised people are at risk of skin cancers.

“In fact, in developed countries, those people are supposed to be coming regularly for a skin check to see if they have any skin cancer so that it can be removed or treated on time.”

An article published by The University of California, San Francisco Medical Centre confirmed Enechukuwu’s stand. The article titled Organ Transplant and Skin Cancer Risk stated that organ transplant patients are at a higher risk for developing skin cancer compared to the general population.

It is said that transplant patients tend to develop a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma and Kaposi sarcoma. Many patients also develop skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma and melanoma.

The article read:

“This higher risk is caused by immunosuppressive medications, which are essential to transplant patients to prevent graft rejection and optimise graft survival.

“Because these medications suppress the immune system that fights off infection and prevent the development of cancer, transplant recipients are at elevated risk for infection and certain cancers.”

The Nigerian dermatologist also said rare conditions of chronic ulcers could lead to skin cancer.

According to her, other people at risk are:

  • People with a long battle of chronic ulcers.
  • People with discoid lupus.
  • People with skin burns.
  • People with viral warts.

She explained:

“Everybody ideally should be on sun protection” 

“Sometimes, the blacks feel we don’t need sunscreen but that is wrong because we are also at risk of having skin cancer, especially someone who is genetically predisposed, who has had a family member who has had skin cancer.”

How to prevent skin cancer 

She advised people to use sun protection. 

Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.

Use hats and umbrellas if you would stay long under the sun.

Wear Protective Clothing.

Stay in the shade.

Clothes that prevent skin cancers are:

  • Long sleeve Clothing.
  • Long clothes.
  • Darker clothes.

Source: PUNCH HealthWise

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