Melanoma & Skin Cancer Facts
Did you know that:
- Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide.
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
- Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
- When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent.
- An estimated 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun.
- People who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily.
- Sun damage is cumulative. Only about 23 percent of lifetime exposure occurs by age 18.
- In the U.S., more than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. More than two people die of the disease every hour.
- More than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer were treated in over 3.3 million people in the U.S. in 2012, the most recent year new statistics were available.
- More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.
- At least one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- Actinic keratosis is the most common precancer; it affects more than 58 million Americans.
The American Cancer Society recommends regular cancer-related checkups, including a skin exam every 3 years if you’re 20 to 40 years of age and every year for people 40 and older.
The first sign of melanoma is often a change in the size, shape, or color of an existing mole, or the appearance of a new mole. Since the vast majority of primary melanomas are visible on the skin, there is a good chance of detecting the disease in its early stages before it has had a chance to grow and spread. This is important because when melanoma is found and treated early, the chances for long-term survival are excellent.
Contact your doctor promptly if you detect any of the following changes:
- Increase in the size of a preexisting mole
- Change in shape of a preexisting mole, particularly irregular borders
- Change in color of a preexisting mole, including a darkening, loss of color, or the development of a red area
- Any unusual oozing or bleeding from a preexisting mole
- Halo formation around a preexisting mole
- Itching, tenderness, or (less commonly) pain from a preexisting mole
- Any unusual sore, lump, blemish, scaling, or marking
- Appearance of a new mole in previously normal, unpigmented skin
- Any new or suspicious lesion
- It’s estimated that the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed in 2020 will increase by almost 2 percent.
- The number of melanoma deaths is expected to decrease by 5.3 percent in 2020.
- An estimated 196,060 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020. Of those, 95,710 cases will be in situ (noninvasive), confined to the epidermis (the top layer of skin), and 100,350 cases will be invasive, penetrating the epidermis into the skin’s second layer (the dermis). Of the invasive cases, 60,190 will be men and 40,160 will be women.
- In the past decade (2010 – 2020), the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed annually increased by 47 percent.2,37
- An estimated 6,850 people will die of melanoma in 2020. Of those, 4,610 will be men and 2,240 will be women.
- The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. In fact, one UK study found that about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
- Compared with stage I melanoma patients treated within 30 days of being biopsied, those treated 30 to 59 days after biopsy have a 5 percent higher risk of dying from the disease, and those treated more than 119 days after biopsy have a 41 percent higher risk.
- Across all stages of melanoma, the average five-year survival rate in the U.S. is 92 percent. The estimated five-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 99 percent. The survival rate falls to 65 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes and 25 percent when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.
- Only 20 to 30 percent of melanomas are found in existing moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on apparently normal skin.
- On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they have had more than five sunburns,15 but just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.
- Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.
- Melanoma accounts for 7 percent of new cancer cases in men, and 4 percent of new cancer cases in women.
- Men age 49 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer.
- From ages 15 to 39, men are 55 percent more likely to die of melanoma than women in the same age group.
- Women age 49 and under are more likely to develop melanoma than any other cancer except breast and thyroid cancers.
- From age 50 on, significantly more men develop melanoma than women. The majority of people who develop melanoma are white men over age 55. But until age 49, significantly more non-Hispanic white women develop melanoma than white men (one in 156 women versus one in 228 men). Overall, one in 28 white men and one in 41 white women will develop melanoma in their lifetime.