Melanoma: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with melanoma each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

This year an estimated 91,270 adults (55,150 men and 36,120 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin. Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer among men and the sixth most common cancer in women.

Before age 50, more women are diagnosed with melanoma than men. However, by age 65, the rate is more than 2 times higher in men. By age 80, the rate in men is nearly 3 times higher than in women. Although 63 is the average age that people are diagnosed with melanoma, it is common in people younger than 30. In fact, it is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in young adult women.

Melanoma accounts for about 1% of all skin cancers diagnosed in the United States, but it causes most of the skin cancer deaths. It is estimated that 9,320 deaths (5,990 men and 3,330 women) from melanoma will occur this year. The number of people diagnosed with melanoma has risen sharply over the past 3 decades. In men and women ages 50 and older, the number of people diagnosed with melanoma increased 3% per year from 2005 to 2014.

Most people with melanoma are cured by their initial surgery. The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. Among all people with melanoma of the skin, from the time of initial diagnosis, the 5-year survival is 92%.

Overall survival depends on the thickness of the primary melanoma, whether the lymph nodes are involved, and whether there is spread of melanoma to distant sites. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. For very early-stage melanoma located at the site where it started, 5-year survival is 99%. Survival for melanoma that has spread to the nearby lymph nodes is 63%. If melanoma has spread to other parts of the body, survival is 20%. However, survival varies depending on a number of factors. These factors are explained in detail in the Diagnosis and Stages sections.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with melanoma are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. It is also important to know that these statistics do not yet reflect the effects of newer treatments for metastatic melanoma (see Treatment Options). The pace of melanoma research is moving quickly, especially over the last 5 years.

Also, experts measure survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or newer treatment available for less than 5 years. People should talk with their doctor if they have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2018, and the ACS website.

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers a drawing of the structures that make up the skin. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.