The number of skin cancer cases in the country has been on the rise. There were 2,819 cases of skin cancer in Singapore from 2008 to 2012, among which 83 per cent were Chinese, according to the National Skin Centre. Malays were next, making up 4.5 per cent of the cases.
The skin centre saw 65 Chinese patients in 2008, but this more than doubled to 141 in 2012. The centre saw 130 Chinese patients last year. Doctors at the National Skin Centre say some races are more vulnerable to ultra-violet radiation, which is the main cause of skin cancer.
The most common form of cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma, which often appears as a longstanding ulcer. Doctors stress that while such cancers have a low death rate of about one per cent, they can affect bodily functions if left untreated.
For example, it could erode facial structures if the cancer appears on the face. Breathing problems may also occur, if the cancer invades the nasal bridge.
"Skin cancers are still better prevented than treated, in the sense that if you have adequate sun protection, you have knowledge about prevention of skin cancers and know how to protect yourself from the UV light, I think that's a very important way to prevent skin cancers," said Dr Chong Wei Sheng, senior consultant dermatologist at the National Skin Centre.
"However, once skin cancers are being diagnosed, there are many good forms of treatment, whether it's surgical treatment or medical treatment. Therefore, if they visit the doctor early, these cancers can be easily treated and cured," he added.
Persistent lumps that bleed on their own, or moles which may itch or change appearance, are all considered possible signs of skin cancer. Those with such symptoms are advised to consult a doctor as soon as possible. - CNA/do