Introduction: Primary malignant melanoma is an uncommon skin tumour in Singapore compared with the Western countries. The clinical characteristics of melanoma have been rarely reported in Asians.Objectives: Our purpose was to study the incidence, clinical characteristics and risk factors of biopsy proven malignant melanoma seen in a tertiary referral skin hospital. Methods: Case records of patients with histology proven malignant melanoma from January 1989 to December 1998 were retrieved. Patients were interviewed and a complete skin and systemic examination was performed. Data on demographics, histological types, clinical characteristics and risk factors were collated. Results: Between 1989 and 1998, 27 patients were diagnosed with histology proven malignant melanoma. There was a predominance of Chinese with a female to male ratio of 1.3:1. There was a mean lag period of 1.6 years to diagnosing melanoma and there is a general lack of knowledge among the local patients. Most of the lesions (89%) occurred on the extremities. Acral lentiginous melanoma (41%) and nodular melanoma (41%) were the two commonest histologic types. Of the nodular melanomas, 64% were observed in patients below 50 years (64%) while majority of the acral lentiginous melanomas occurred in those above 50 years (91%). In terms of risk factors, we reported a high prevalence of diabetes mellitus with acral lentiginous melanoma. Conclusions: This study highlighted interesting aspects in terms of clinical characteristics and risk factors in our local patients. It also served as a remainder of the need to raise awareness among the public and medical community of skin cancers or melanomas as they are potentially treatable if detected early.
Unlike in Caucasians, primary malignant melanoma is an uncommon skin malignancy in Singapore. There have been little published data on cutaneous melanoma in Southeast Asia.
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