Facts about Melanoma

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • Melanoma accounts for 5% of all skin cancers and 71% of all skin cancer deaths. It is estimated that one in every 50 Americans is diagnosed with melanoma.
  • The incidence rate of melanoma is increasing faster than that of any other type of cancer. Melanoma is growing at an epidemic rate with an estimated 3% increase in cases annually.
  • It is estimated that 161,790 new cases of melanoma, 74,680 noninvasive (in situ) and 87,110 invasive, will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017.
    • Invasive melanoma is projected to be the fifth most common cancer for men (52,170 cases) and the sixth most common cancer for women (34,940 cases) in 2017.
  • Caucasians and men older than 50 have a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population.
    • The incidence in men ages 80 and older is three times higher than women of the same age.
    • The annual incidence rate of melanoma in non-Hispanic Caucasians is 26 per 100,000, compared to 5 per 100,000 in Hispanics and 1 per 100,000 in African-Americans.
    • In people of color, melanoma is often diagnosed at later stages, when the disease is more advanced.
  • Before age 50, melanoma incidence rates are higher in women than in men, but by age 65, rates are twice as high in men.
    • Thirty percent of all melanoma in men arises on the back—it is important to ask your doctor to examine your skin carefully for atypical moles.
    • Melanoma in Caucasian women younger than 44 has increased 6.1 percent annually, which may reflect recent trends in indoor tanning.
  • Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer in females age 15-29.
    • Melanoma is increasing faster in females age 15-29 than in males of the same age group.
  • In most cases, melanoma arises from a previously existing mole, and it can spread to other locations if not treated.
  • When melanoma is detected at an early stage, surgical removal cures the disease in most cases.
  • Genetic factors are the most important of known risk factors, including the familiar tendency to develop melanoma, prominent moles, and atypical moles.
  • Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is believed to be a contributing factor to most cases of melanoma; short periods of intense exposure, such as sunbathing is associated with higher risk.
  • The most important warning sign for skin cancer is a spot on the skin that is changing in size, shape, or color.
  • Careful skin self-examination is associated with reductions in late-stage melanoma.
  • Patient or family-discovered melanoma accounts for more than half of all melanoma diagnoses. The key is to check yourself!