Melanoma Facts


2000% increase in melanoma incidences since 1930

  • Over 5 million cases of skin cancer were treated in 2012, and skin cancer cases outnumber all other cancer types in the US combined.
  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop some type of skin cancer by the age of 70.
  • 1 in 27 white men and 1 in 42 white women will develop melanoma in their lifetimes.
  • Melanoma is the deadliest cancer for young women ages 29 to 34, even more lethal than breast cancer!
  • Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.
  • An estimated 178,560 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2018. Of those, 87,290 cases will be in situ (noninvasive) and 91,270 cases will be invasive.
  • From 1970 to 2009, the incidence of melanoma increased by 800 percent among young women and 400 percent among young men.
  • Melanoma is at least 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 1 in 38 for whites/non-hispanic, 1 in 1,000 for African Americans, and 1 in 172 for Hispanics.


Risk Factors

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a proven human carcinogen

  • More than 6,200 melanoma cases each year are linked to tanning-bed use.
  • Using a tanning bed before age 35 increases your risk for melanoma by 75 percent
  • Having 5 or more blistering sunburns by the age of 20 increases your risk of melanoma by 80%.
  • Living in an area that has more sun exposure such as closer to the equator where sunlight is more intense
  • Having light colored hair, skin, and/or eyes has been shown to increase your risk of developing melanoma


Mortality Rate

Approximately 9,320 patients will die from melanoma in 2018.

  • One person dies each hour from melanoma.
  • Incidence is rising steadily on a global scale.
  • It is clear from the literature that melanoma leads to significant years of potential life lost and high costs associated with premature mortality and morbidity.
  • The costs attributable to melanoma range from $39.2 million for morbidity and $3.3 billion for mortality, respectively, in 2012.
  • Prevention and early detection efforts are key tools in lowering the incidence of late stage melanoma.


The Forgotten Cancer

  • Melanoma/skin cancer is the most underfunded of all cancers by federal and private agencies
  • Early detection makes melanoma highly curable, but it is the least screened for cancer
  • People find their own melanomas more frequently than doctors do and melanoma detection is not a training requirement for most medical disciplines

The Promise

  • New therapies are being developed quickly
  • The discovery of targeted therapies and immunotherapies are making melanoma a chronic disease as people are living longer

To Avoid Melanoma

Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent

  • Seek shade and avoid direct sun during the peak hours of 10-4.
  • Cover up with protective clothing and use sunscreen lotion. Check out our Sunscreen Suggestions page to learn more.
  • Protect your children and be sure to role model sun safe behaviors. You can learn more about this on our Melanoma Prevention page.
  • Examine your skin and that of your loved ones each season for any changes that should be checked by a dermatologist. Check out this 2 minute video to learn how to properly examine your skin.
  • Avoid tanning salons: 15 minutes is equal to a whole day’s exposure at the beach


Source: National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society’s Facts and Figures, The Skin Cancer Foundation, The American Academy of Dermatology.

Source: Melanoma: Not Just Skin Cancer, by Catherine M. Poole; Contributing editors: Keith Flaherty, MD, DuPont Guerry, MD and Jedd Wolchok, MD, 2015.

General Disclaimer

The MIF Website is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through this Website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

UPDATED: September 1, 2018