Melanoma: Statistics

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how many people learn they have this type of cancer each year and some general survival information. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

This year an estimated 76,100 adults (43,890 men and 32,210 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive melanoma, which is melanoma that extends deep into the skin. It is estimated that 9,710 deaths (6,470 men and 3,240 women) from melanoma will occur this year.

Melanoma accounts for less than 2% of all skin cancer cases in the United States but a majority of skin cancer deaths, as it is the most serious form of skin cancer. Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer among men and the seventh most common cancer in women. Although more women are diagnosed with melanoma before age 45, by age 60, the rate is more than two times higher in men, and by age 80, the rate in men is nearly three times higher than in women. Melanoma rates are 24 times higher in white people than black people and have been increasing for the last 30 years.

Most people with melanoma are cured by their initial surgery. The five-year survival rate is the percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is detected, excluding those who die from other diseases. The five-year survival rate of people with melanoma is 91%. Overall survival depends upon thickness of the primary melanoma, whether lymph nodes (small, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection) are involved, and whether there is spread of melanoma to distant sites. For early-stage melanoma that is only located near where it started, the five-year survival rate is 98%. The five-year survival rates for melanoma that has spread to the nearby lymph nodes or to other parts of the body are 62% and 16% respectively. However, survival rates vary depending on a number of factors. These factors are explained in detail in the Diagnosis and Stages sections.

Cancer survival statistics should be interpreted with caution. These estimates are based on data from thousands of people with this type of cancer in the United States each year, but the actual risk for a particular individual may differ. Also, it is important to know that these statistics are based on data from 14 to 30 years ago and do not reflect the effects of newer treatments for metastatic melanoma (see the Treatment Options section). It is not possible to tell a person how long he or she will live with melanoma. Because the survival statistics are measured in five-year intervals, they may not represent recent advances made in the treatment or diagnosis of this cancer. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society’s publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2014.

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