University of Ibadan Alumni Association
Enugu State Branch

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Prof Wilson Onuigbo

By Professor Wilson Onuigbo (FMCPath, FRCPath, FRCPGlas, OON)

Our monthly columnist Professor Wilson Onuigbo who is a world renowned Medical Scientist and Scholar with a lot of research findings to his credit, reveals some of his research findings and opinions every month on this column for the benefit of mankind.

No Albino Should Suffer From Extensive Skin Cancers Let Alone Die There-From

The epidemiology of albino skin cancer in Nigeria was reported in 1977. Since then, a major issue has been the late presentation of albinos for treatment. In general, the woeful picture of  cancer in  man led  a  US  President to  declare war  on it. Incidentally, a contributor who had such  a  war  in  mind,  lamented  that “Too many  adults still die from common epithelial cancers.” In  this context, let me add my personal experience of the albino skin cancer variety in the Nigerian community, where the Igbo Ethnic Group warrants being used to hypothesize that no albino should suffer from extensive skin cancer let alone die of it. In principle, emphasis should be led  on

  1. The expert mother care of the affected  children;
  2. The planned education of the  public;
  3. The promotion of this mundane matter through the rising women empowerment groups; and
  4. The employment statutorily of all victims indoors. In conclusion, the hitherto prevailing sheer horror of albinism is contrastable with  my personal experience of 2 albino medical students, who subsequently became consultant physicians with unblemished faces! This should, in short, be a world-wide goal.

Keywords: Albino; Skin cancer; Prevention; Morbidity; Fatality; Public policy


Goal of the epidemiological  type  was  achieved  as  far  back as 1977 by Okoro [1], who surveyed the incidence of albinism    in Nigeria. Today, the problem is that the sufferers arrive at the hospitals for treatment very late [2,3] Fortunately,  my position  as a Visiting Surgical Pathologist in a Hospital having a Plastic Surgery Department facilitated the documentations of the tragic albino pictures [4-7]. Pictures of this calamity are, as I have painted them, with reference to the measurements in cm of the surgical biopsies taken from 263 albinos of the Igbo Ethnic Group domiciled in the South Eastern Region of Nigeria [8]. Note that the panorama is manifested in the subjoined (Table 1).

Extent (cm)





















Table 1: Measurements in cm of 263 excised albino skin cancers.


Surely, these figures do speak loudly for only 3.4% of the cohort presenting as 1 cm lesions, whereas 49.9% measured 5 cm or more. No wonder that, even the ear and the eye, may be sacrificed during the necessitated heroic surgery (Figure 1 & 2).

Accordingly, let me advance the hypothesis that no albino should ever suffer from gargantuan lesions let alone die there from! Firstly, the mothers themselves must muster care in their home surroundings. Secondly, public health education must be intensified. Thirdly, the rising women empowerment movements ought to take up the cudgels in this meritorious matter. Finally, the Government itself must ensure the automatic employment of these victims indoors as a matter of statutory policy.

No Albino Should Suffer From Extensive Skin Cancers Let Alone Die There-From

Figure 2:
Surgical specimen showing cancer sparing an albino’s
although the whole ear had to be sacrificed during heroic surgery.

Policy of note came not long ago from a US President concerning “The War on Cancer.” Actually, as Sporn [9] lamented, “Too many adults still die from common epithelial cancers.” Consequently, the thrust of the present paper is that, indeed, not a single albino should even come to serious grief let alone die of cancer of the skin. This will certainly materialize if the above documented surveillance options are firmly rooted right from childhood. In particular, the Government’s policy option should guarantee the indoor employment of the disadvantaged albinos. Indeed, I am persuaded, after fortunately teaching 2 female medical students, who eventually became Consultant Physicians with unblemished faces that the present proposal is not a figment of imagination but a pillar to lean on while advancing this preventive cancer research!


  1. Okoro AN (1975) Albinism in Nigeria. A clinical and social study. Br J Dermatol 92(5): 485-492.
  2. Asuquo ME, Ngim O, Ebughe G, Bassey EE (2009) Skin cancers amongst four Nigerian albinos. Int J Dermatol 48(6): 636-638.
  3. Yakubu A, Mabogunje OA (1993) Skin cancer in African albinos. Acta Oncol 32(6): 621-622.
  4. Onuigbo WIB (2005) Comparative study of squamous cell carcinoma of the eyelids in blacks and albinos. Int J Ophthalmol 5(5): 836-837.
  5. Onuigbo WIB, Nnabuko RE (2009) Three different carcinomas clustered in one facial focus in albino. Nig J Surg Sci 19: 38-40.
  6. Onuigbo WIB, Achebe JU (2014) Eyelid cancer in an albino that progressed to exenteration indicates the failure of public health education in Nigerian community. Int J Opthamol.
  7. Onuigbo WIB, Nwozo JC, Nnabuko RE (2014) Rhabdomyosarcoma followed six episodes of squamous cell carcinoma in a Nigerian albino: A case report. Int J Med & Med Sci 6(11): 236-238.
  8. Basden GT (1966) Niger Ibos. London Cass.
  9. Sporn MB (1996) The war on cancer. Lancet 347(9012): 1377-1381.



In this Column

Bilateral Breast Cancer in a Nigerian Community
- Professor Wilson I. B. Onuigbo

Malnutrition Featured During the Nigerian Civil War as both Classical Kwashiorkor and Nascent Paragonimiasis
- Professor Wilson I. B. Onuigbo

Historical Highlights of Medical Education at the Higher College, Yaba, in the 1940s
- Professor Wilson I. B. Onuigbo

No Albino Should Suffer From Extensive Skin Cancers Let Alone Die There-From
- Professor Wilson I. B. Onuigbo

One Referee Constitutes a Poor Method of Assisting the Editor to Assess Epidemiologic Research: Should three not be the Standard?
- Professor Wilson I. B. Onuigbo

The Role of Referees in Research
- Professor Wilson I. B. Onuigbo

Prevention of Cancer
Professor Wilson I. B. Onuigbo



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