Noteworthy Numbers: Melanoma

TOP - August 2019, Vol 12, No 3 - Melanoma, Noteworthy Numbers

Skin cancer is the most frequently diagnosed malignancy in the United States. Although invasive melanoma comprises approximately 1% of skin cancers, it is the cause of a vast majority of skin cancer–related deaths.1,2 The following provides helpful information related to this malignancy.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 96,480 individuals (57,220 men and 39,260 women) will be diagnosed with melanoma in the United States in 2019 and approximately 7230 individuals (4740 men and 2490 women) will die from the disease in the same year.1,2

The incidence rate for melanoma has been increasing over the past 30 years, although these trends vary by age. From 2006 to 2015, the incidence rate rose by 3% per year among men and women aged ≥50 years, but was stable in individuals aged <50 years during the same time period.2 In the United States, melanoma is currently the fifth most common cancer in men and women of all age-groups.2

Mortality rates in melanoma are higher among middle-aged and elderly patients compared with younger patients, with the highest percentage of deaths occurring among those aged 75 to 84 years.3 However, there is a trend toward declining mortality rates related to the disease. From 2007 to 2016, mortality rates decreased by approximately 2% per year in individuals aged ≥50 years and by approximately 4% per year in those aged <50 years.2

The overall 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 92% (based on data from individuals diagnosed between 2008 and 2014).3 The 5-year relative survival rates by stage are 98% for localized disease, 64% for regional disease, and 23% for distant disease.3

Melanoma is 20 times more frequently diagnosed in whites than in blacks. Overall, the lifetime risk for developing melanoma is approximately 2.6% for whites, 0.1% for blacks, and 0.58% for Hispanics.1

The risk for developing melanoma increases if one or more of a patient’s first-degree relatives (eg, parents, siblings, children) has had the disease. Of all individuals with melanoma, 10% have a family history of the disease, which may be attributed to a shared family lifestyle of frequent sun exposure, a family tendency toward fair skin, certain gene mutations, or a combination of these and other factors.4

On July 29, 2014, the Surgeon General issued a Call to Action urging immediate collaborative actions to prevent skin cancer.5 The report encourages increased awareness of the disease and includes the following 5 strategic goals to support skin cancer prevention in the United States:

  • Increase opportunities for sun protection in outdoor settings
  • Provide individuals with the information they need to make informed, healthy choices about ultraviolet radiation exposure
  • Promote policies that advance the national goal of preventing skin cancer
  • Reduce harms from indoor tanning
  • Strengthen research, surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation related to skin cancer prevention


  1. American Cancer Society. Key statistics for melanoma skin cancer. Accessed May 10, 2019.
  2. American Cancer Society. Cancer facts & figures 2019. Accessed May 10, 2019.
  3. National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. Cancer stat facts: melanoma of the skin. Accessed May 13, 2019.
  4. American Cancer Society. Risk factors for melanoma skin cancer. May 20, 2016. Accessed May 10, 2019.
  5. US Department of Health & Human Services. The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent skin cancer. 2014. Accessed May 13, 2019. Erratum:
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Last modified: July 22, 2021