The current issue of Family Circle Magazine June 2012 has an article about skin cancer &
women who have survived it. In reading the article, it got me thinking about my Vitiligo and how we must use sunscreen. So I did some research and thought I would share what I have learned. Of course we all know we have to wear sunscreen, regardless of our skin color. Our vit makes us more susceptible to sunburns and other related conditions & diseases.
I'll continue to wear my sunscreen to prevent sunburns and hopefully prevent skin cancer in the future
According to the AVRF ( American Vitiligo Research Foundation ) People with vitiligo do not suffer from increased risk of skin cancer.
It was believed for a long that that skin color helped with protection from the sun's rays.But this isn't true. The SPF is only between 2-3 for the brown/black melanin and the red pheomelanin doesn't offer much protection at all. Even wit having vit patches, where the pigment is nearly gone completely,
not everyone with Vit will get a sunburn. There are two studies which have shown that having vit doesn't necessarily coincide with a greater sun sensitivity.
" Malignant Melanoma (MM) is another skin cancer which can be very dangerous if not recognised early.
People with very fair skin (those who never tan or only very slightly) do have a higher risk to develop melanoma compared to dark skinpeople at any body site regardless of sun exposure or not. These tumours can develop in existing moles but they can also arise totally new as pigmented as well as non-pigmented tumours. Early recognition and excision are important for the outcome.
The observation that melanoma is more frequent in patients with vitiligo originates from a study which included 623 Caucasian patients with melanoma of the Oncology Clinic at the Department of Dermatology at the University of Hamburg/Germany (Schallreuter KU et al, Dermatologica (1991)).
In this study 11/623 patients with melanoma had a true vitiligo long before their melanoma was diagnosed. Considering that 1 in 200 has vitiligo and 1 in 12,000 develops melanoma, these results suggested a significantly higher risk to develop melanoma for patients with vitiligo and fair skin (Schallreuter KU et al, Dermatologica (1991)).
In our Institute for Pigmentary Disorders we have indeed found in 2 Caucasian patients with vitiligo melanoma in a patient group of 1800 Caucasian patients with vitiligo supporting the above findings (Schallreuter KU, unpublished results).
Based on the above results the take home message and recommendation is that patients who have vitiligo should undergo an annual total body examination at their Dermatologists in order to recognise a possible melanoma as early as possible."
On a side note, I do wish the magazine had included information about Vit & skin cancer. It would of been very useful & informative & helpful to the vit community.