Melanoma: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with melanoma each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with melanoma?

In 2023, an estimated 97,610 adults (58,120 men and 39,490 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive melanoma of the skin. Worldwide, an estimated 324,635 people were diagnosed with melanoma in 2020.

In the United States, melanoma is the fifth most common cancer among men. It is also the fifth most common cancer among women. Melanoma is 20 times more common in White people than in Black people. The average age of diagnosis is 65. Before age 50, more women are diagnosed with melanoma than men. After age 50, rates are higher in men.

The development of melanoma is more common as people grow older. But it also develops in younger people, including those younger than 30 years old. It is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in young adults, particularly for women. In 2020, about 2,400 cases of melanoma were estimated to be diagnosed in people aged 15 to 29.

The number of people diagnosed with melanoma rose sharply for decades. However, from the early 2000s, annual incidence rates for people under age 50 stabilized in women and dropped by an estimated 1% each year in men. From 2015 to 2019, incidence rates for people age 50 and older increased by around 1% each year in women and stayed about the same in men.

Specifically, the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 diagnosed with melanoma declined 6% each year between 2007 and 2016. The number of adults in their 20s diagnosed with the disease decreased by 3% each year. Percent means how many out of 100. For adults in their 30s, the number of people diagnosed with melanoma remained steady for women and dropped slightly for men. The decrease in melanoma in younger people is likely due in part to increased sun-protection behaviors and a reduction in indoor tanning.

Melanoma accounts for about 1% of all skin cancers diagnosed in the United States, but it causes most of the deaths from skin cancer. It is estimated that 7,990 deaths (5,420 men and 2,570 women) from melanoma will occur in the United States in 2023. However, from 2011 to 2020, deaths from melanoma decreased by around 5% each year in adults younger than 50 and 3% per year in people 50 and over. This is due to treatment advances. In 2020, an estimated 57,043 people worldwide died from melanoma.

What is the survival rate for melanoma?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from melanoma. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with melanoma are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with melanoma are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

Many people with melanoma are cured by their initial surgery. Among all people with melanoma of the skin in the United States, from the time of initial diagnosis, the 5-year relative survival rate is 94%.

The survival rates for melanoma vary based on several factors. These include a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. Overall survival at 5 years also depends on the thickness of the primary melanoma, whether the lymph nodes are involved, and whether there is spread of melanoma to distant sites (see Stages). Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection.

For people with "thin melanoma," defined as being less than 1 millimeter in maximal thickness, that has not spread to lymph nodes or other distant sites, the 5-year relative survival rate in the United States is 99%. However, for people with thicker melanoma, the 5-year relative survival rate may be 80% or higher.

In the United States, the 5-year relative survival rates for melanoma that has spread to the nearby lymph nodes is 71%. However, this number is different for every patient and depends on the number of lymph nodes involved, the amount of tumor in the involved lymph node(s), and the features of the primary melanoma (such as thickness and whether there is ulceration).

If melanoma has spread to other, distant parts of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is lower, about 32%. Treatment advances have doubled this survival rate since 2004. Approximately 5% of cases are diagnosed at this stage. 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 know that these statistics do not yet reflect the effects of newer treatments for metastatic melanoma (see Types of Treatment). The pace of melanoma research is moving quickly, especially over the last 10 years.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for melanoma every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how melanoma is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) publications, Cancer Facts & Figures 2023 and Cancer Facts & Figures 2020, the ACS website, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer website. (All sources accessed February 2023.)

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