Skin cancer trends among Asians living in Singapore from 1968 to 2006

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 Sep;61(3):426-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2009.03.031. Epub 2009 Jul 22.


Background: The incidence rates of skin cancers in Caucasian populations are increasing. There is little information on skin cancer trends in Asians, who have distinctly different skin types.

Objective: We sought to study skin cancer incidence rates and time trends among the 3 Asian ethnic groups in Singapore.

Methods: We analyzed skin cancer data from the Singapore Cancer Registry from 1968 to 2006 using the Poisson regression model.

Results: There were 4044 reported cases of basal cell carcinoma, 2064 of squamous cell carcinoma, and 415 of melanoma. Overall skin cancer incidence rates increased from 2.9/100,000 in 1968 to 1972 to 8.4/100,000 in 1998 to 2002, declining to 7.4/100,000 in 2003 to 2006. Among older persons (> or = 60 years), basal cell carcinoma rates increased the most, by 18.9/100,000 in Chinese, 6.0/100,000 in Malays, and 4.1/100,000 in Indians from 1968 to 1972 to 2003 to 2006. Squamous cell carcinoma rates among those aged 60 years and older increased by 2.3/100,000 in Chinese and by 1/100,000 in Malays and Indians. Melanoma rates were constant for all 3 races. Skin cancer rates among the fairer-skinned Chinese were approximately 3 times higher than in Malays and Indians, who generally have darker complexions.

Limitations: Although appropriate population denominators were used, lack of data from 2007 could have affected the results for the last time period, which comprised 4 instead of 5 years.

Conclusion: Incidence rates of skin cancer in Singapore increased from 1968 to 2006, especially among older Chinese.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / ethnology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / ethnology*
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Melanoma / ethnology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Registries
  • Singapore / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Skin Pigmentation