Kiprono et al. BMC Cancer 2014, 14:157 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2407/14/157 RESEARCH ARTICLE Open Access Histological review of skin cancers in African Albinos: a 10-year retrospective review Samson Kimaiyo Kiprono1,2*, Baraka Michael Chaula1 and Helmut Beltraminelli1,3 Abstract Background: 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. Methods: 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. Results: 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 (n = 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. Conclusions: Squamous cell carcinoma is more common than basal cell carcinoma in African albinos. Keywords: Albinos, African, Skin Cancer Background Skin cancer is the most common malignancy among Caucasians. It represents approximately 20-30% of all neoplasms in Caucasians and 1-2% in those with colored skin . Skin cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Albinos who develop premalignant and malignant lesions at a younger age and suffer from advanced skin cancers in the third to fourth decade of life [2,3]. Albinism is a genetically inherited disorder with a worldwide distribution. Phenotypically it presents with reduced or no melanin in the hair, the skin and the eyes . Genetically albinism is classified into four types according to the type of gene mutation . Oculocutaneous albinism type II (OCAII) is the most common type of albinism in Africa . The prevalence is estimated to range from 1 in 15,000 in the East-Central State of Nigeria  to 1 in 1,000 in the Tonga tribe of Zimbabwe . The prevalence in Tanzania is estimated to be 1 in 2,500 inhabitants . The lack of melanin and exposure to * Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Full list of author information is available at the end of the article intense ultraviolet radiation increase the risk of developing skin cancer. The lack of melanin in Albinos increases the risk of developing skin cancer by 1,000 fold as compared with the general African population . The aim of this study was to determine the common type of skin cancers and if there is an increase in prevalence of squamous cell carcinoma using biopsies and excisions from Albinos. Methods This study was conducted at the Regional Dermatology Training Center (RDTC) at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center. This is a referral hospital for skin diseases in Northern Tanzania with a catchment area population extending to the neighboring countries. This was a retrospective study covering a period of 10 years (from 2002 to 2011). All files of patients who were biopsied or whose tumors had been excised and submitted for histopathological examination were retrieved and a structured data collection tool was used to extract the data. Data was entered into a statistical package for social scientists (SPPSS Chicago Inc.) for descriptive analysis. Ethical clearance was waived by the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College Ethical Committee. All slides were examined by a © 2014 Kiprono et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.