Dermatologists say they often vitiligo patients who are at high risk of skin cancer because they lack the natural protection of the skin pigment melanin from the harmful rays of the sun.It seems fair warning, since we know that exposure to the sun increases the risk of skin cancer, particularly in younger people who have suffered severe burns.
What studies say?
further, Recent studies show that the use of tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma, deadly skin cancer. It is also true that the lack of pigment in the skin in patients with vitiligo, It is resulting from the loss of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, It makes them more likely to burn when they spend time in the sun.
Thus, it is not surprising that dermatologists advise patients with vitiligo of an increased risk of skin cancer. The problem is that research studies do not seem to support this warning.
Astudy in the Netherlands He reported that patients with vitiligo appeared to have a lower risk of skin cancer compared healthy controls. In the study, surveyed patients with vitiligo over 50 years and their healthy couples as controls, asking about risk factor's skin cancer (Sun exposure, family background, etc.) and if you ever had a skin cancer. It turned out that patients with vitiligo reported 3 times less skin cancers (including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma) their healthy couples, suggesting that patients with vitiligo can be relatively protected against skin cancer. This reduced risk was not due simply to stay farther from the sun, use more sunscreen or avoid other known risk factors for cancer.
inverse relationship between melanoma and vitiligo
How could this? The short answer is, we are not sure. But there are some clues. StudiesRecent on the genetics of vitiligo revealed that gene versions that INCREASED The risk of vitiligo DECREASE simultaneously the risk of melanoma, and vice versa.
this makes sense, because vitiligo occurs when the immune system kills normal skin melanocytes, It is resulting in white patches that lack pigment. Thus, if patients with vitiligo have an overactive immune system that kills normal melanocytes, it makes sense that melanomas can eliminate abnormal melanocytes.
In fact, there are some reports of widespread melanoma patients heal spontaneously from his illness, and they have developed simultaneously vitiligo. Also, new treatments for melanoma that increase the immune attack tumors also cause vitiligo. Then vitiligo protects against melanoma, which is good news. Nevertheless, These observations can not explain why the vitiligo protects against non-melanoma skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.
This seemed to be the right time to write this blog entry, because I had a vitiligo patient in my clinic last week that he was very afraid I had skin cancer and was relieved, to the point mourn, when I told him about this new information. It is completely understandable that dermatologists assume that the risk of skin cancer is higher in patients with vitiligo, but the available evidence does not support it.
NEVERTHELESS, Very important it is to make it clear: Have vitiligo not mean you can not get skin cancer. Patients with vitiligo should not ignore the use of sunscreen. Thus, it is still important to protect yourself from sun burn.