Melanoma Epidemiology

On a worldwide basis in 2012, there were 232,000 people living with and the disease resulted in 55,000 deaths.

However, the specific rates of incidence throughout the world vary considerably, according to the genetic tendencies of the population and environmental factors, such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight. There are notably high rates in Australia and New Zealand in comparison to the rest of the world.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidence of melanoma in the world that continues to increase, particularly among Caucasian populations livings in these countries.

The prevalence of melanoma in Australia places it as the third most common cancer of both genders. It appears to be on the rise, with a 30 percent increase evident between 1991 and 2009.

In 2012, more than 12,000 Australians were diagnosed with the disease, with a rate of 59.6 new cases per 100,000 population, which is 12 times higher than the world average. Additionally, there were 7.3 – 9.8 deaths due to melanoma per 100,000 population.

United States

It is expected that 73,870 adults will be diagnosed with invasive melanoma in the United States in 2015. Additionally, the disease is estimated to be responsible for nearly 10,000 deaths this year.

Although melanoma accounts for few cases of skin cancer in the United States, it causes the highest number of deaths due to skin cancer.

Genetic and Environmental Susceptibility

Some individuals are at risk of melanoma due to an inherited genotype such as CDKN2A or CDK4 for the disease, which is likely to be associated with a family history of melanoma. Individuals with fair skin and red hair are more likely to be affected.

Intermittent sun exposure resulting in sunburn is known to cause melanoma, accounting for the common presentation of tumors on the backs of men and legs of women. Use of sunbeds is also linked to the development of melanoma.


Melanoma is more common among men than women in most countries in the world. However, for younger populations, the rate of females with melanoma is considerably higher than that of males.

Survival Rates

The majority of people with melanoma are cured with the initial surgical procedure to remove the melanoma. The overall survival rate is 91% at five years following diagnosis and 89% after ten years, but this depends greatly on the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis. This different stages and survival rates are outlined below:

  • Stage 0: 99.9% survival
  • Stage I: 89-95% survival
  • Stage II: 45-79% survival
  • Stage III 24-70% survival
  • Stage IV: 7-19% survival

However, these survival rates should be taken lightly as the rate of progression of melanoma research is relatively rapid and these figures are based on older treatment techniques.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2018

Yolanda Smith

Written by

Yolanda Smith

Yolanda graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of South Australia and has experience working in both Australia and Italy. She is passionate about how medicine, diet and lifestyle affect our health and enjoys helping people understand this. In her spare time she loves to explore the world and learn about new cultures and languages.


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