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Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer - What it is

Our skin is made up of epidermis, dermis, subcutaneous tissue, and other adnexa within the layers. Epidermis is a kind of squamous epithelium. In the epidermis, the actively dividing basal cells mature to become keratinocyes. Subsequently, the keratinocyes die and become keratin. Interspersed between the basal cells are pigment-producing cells called melanocyes. Skin cancers are malignant tumours of the basal cells, keratinocyes and melanocytes.

How common is Skin Cancer?
 
Skin cancer is one of the top ten most frequent cancers in Singapore. There has been a general rising trend in the incidence of this cancer in both men and women over the last 40 years. According to the Trends in Cancer Incidence in Singapore 2014-2018 (Singapore Cancer Registry), there were 1,975 and 1,568 cases of skin cancer reported in Singapore men and women respectively. Skin cancer ranks 6th in male cancers and 7th in female cancers in Singapore.

Anecdotally there seems to be more young people (<65 years old) being diagnosed with skin cancer recently, however data from the cancer registry indicates that this condition is still most prevalent in the elderly. This apparent trend could be as a result of increased awareness regarding the disease and more health-seeking behavior among the younger population, as well as easy access to medical care for earlier diagnosis and/or treatment.

Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancers are divided into melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). In Singapore, NMSC are much more common than melanoma. Melanoma behaves much more aggressively than NMSC. Melanoma is the malignant tumour of the melanocytes. NMSC consists of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC). In normal population, BCC is more common than SCC. Solid organ transplant recipients have higher rate of skin cancer and SCC is the more common subtype.

Skin Cancer - Preparing for surgery

Skin Cancer - Post-surgery care

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