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 96,480 adults (57,220 men and 39,260 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin. Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer among men and women.
Before age 50, more women are diagnosed with melanoma than men. However, by age 65, men are 2 times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma. And by age 80, they are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma. Although 63 is the average age that people are diagnosed with melanoma, it is also common in people younger than 30. In fact, it is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in young adult women. Melanoma is 20 times more common in non-Hispanic white people than in black people.
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 2006 to 2015.
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 7,230 deaths (4,740 men and 2,490 women) from melanoma will occur this year. However, from 2007 to 2016, deaths from melanoma have decreased by 2% in adults older than 50 and by 4% in those younger than 50.
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 the melanoma has spread to distant parts of the body. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. For very early-stage melanoma located only where it started, 5-year survival is 98% Approximately 84% of people are diagnosed with this stage. Survival for melanoma that has spread to the nearby lymph nodes is 64%. If melanoma has spread to other parts of the body, survival is 23%. However, survival varies depending on several 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. 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) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2019, and the ACS website (January 2019).
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.