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Melanoma Facts

The vast majority of mutations found in melanoma are caused by ultraviolet radiation.

  • The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the incidence of melanoma continues to rise significantly, at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers.
  • Approximately 68,720 melanomas will be diagnosed this year, with nearly 8,650 resulting in death.
  • Melanoma accounts for about three percent of skin cancer cases,31 but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.
  • Melanoma mortality increased by about 33 percent from 1975-90, but has remained relatively stable since 1990.
  • Survival with melanoma increased from 49 percent between 1950 and 1954 to 92 percent between 1996 and 2003.
  • More than 20 Americans die each day from skin cancer, primarily melanoma. One person dies of melanoma almost every hour (every 62 minutes).
  • The survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the epidermis, is about 99 percent.
  • The survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease.
  • Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer for males and sixth most common for females.
  • Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
  • About 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
  • One in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.
  • One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
  • A person's risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any age.

Sources

SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2004 (NCI)
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2009. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2009
The Burden of Skin Cancer. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 13 May 2008.
SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2004 (NCI)
SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2004 (NCI)
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2009. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2009.
Huang CL, Halpern AC. Management of the patient with melanoma. In: Rigel DS, Friedman RJ, Dzubow LM, Reintgen DS, Bystryn J-C, Marks R, eds. Cancer of the Skin. New York, NY: Elsevier Saunders; 2005:265-75.
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2009. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2009.
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2009. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2009.
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2009. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2009.
Cancer Epidemiology in Older Adolescents & Young Adults. SEER AYA Monograph Pages 53-63. 2007.
Armstrong, B.K., and A. Kricker, How much melanoma is caused by sun exposure?, Melanoma Research, 1993: 3:395-401.
Melanoma of the Skin, Cancer Fact Sheets, National Cancer Institute, SEER Database, 2008.
Lew RA, Sober AJ, Cook N, Marvell R, Fitzpatrick TB. Sun exposure habits in patients with cutaneous melanoma: a case study. J Dermatol Surg Oncol, 1983; 12:981-6.
Pfahlberg A, Kolmel KF, Gefeller O. Timing of excessive ultraviolet radiation and melanoma: epidemiology does not support the existence of a critical period of high susceptibility to solar ultraviolet radiation-induced melanoma. British Journal of Dermatology, March 2001; 144; 3:471.