SummaryBackground There has been an alarming recent increase in skin cancer incidence among fair-skinned populations. Information from Asian populations is less readily available.
Objectives This study examines time trends and ethnic differences of skin cancers among Asians in Singapore.
Methods Data from 1968 to 1997 was obtained from the Singapore Cancer Registry, a population-based registry. Age-standardized incidence rates (ASRs) and age-adjusted average annual percentage change, using the Poisson regression model, were calculated.
Results A total of 2650 basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), 1407 squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) and 281 melanomas were reported. There was an overall increase of skin cancer from 6·0 per 100 000 person years (1968–72) to 8·9 per 100 000 person years (1993–97). BCC incidence increased 3% annually, melanoma remained constant, and SCC decreased 0·9% annually. BCC ASRs were highest among Chinese, then Malays and Indians. A similar pattern was noted for SCC and melanomas.
Conclusions The incidence rates of skin cancer increased in Singapore during the period 1968–97. Fairer-skinned Chinese had a higher incidence of skin cancer.