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 in this guide, use the colored boxes on the right side of your screen, or click “Next” at the bottom.
This year an estimated 76,690 adults (45,060 men and 31,630 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive melanoma (melanoma that extends deep into the skin). It is estimated that 9,480 deaths (6,280 men and 3,200 women) from melanoma will occur this year.
Melanoma accounts for less than 5% of all skin cancer cases 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 twice as many women are diagnosed with melanoma before age 40, after 40, the rate is higher in men; among those 80 and older, the rate in men is three times higher than in women. Melanoma rates are 23 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 (percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is detected, excluding those who die from other diseases) is 91%. Overall survival depends upon thickness of the primary melanoma, whether lymph nodes (tiny, 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 15% 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. 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 2013.
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