2021 Melanoma Facts & Statistics
Invasive melanoma accounts for 1% of all skin cancer cases. It’s the least common but deadliest skin cancer. In 2021 in the United States, it is estimated that
- There will be 207,390 cases of melanoma diagnosed. Of those, 101,280 cases will be noninvasive (in situ) and 106,110 cases will be invasive. Of the invasive cases,
- 62,260 cases will occur in males.
- 43,850 cases will occur in females.
- There will be 7,180 deaths from the disease.
- 4,600 will be men
- 2,580 will be women.
For comparison, the 2020 estimates were for 196,060 new cases (95,710 noninvasive and 100,350 invasive) and 7,850 deaths.
Risk, Prevalence, and Incidence
The increase in melanoma cases in the U.S. is tremendous, but not all Americans are at equal risk:
- Between 2009 – 2019, the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed in the U.S. is estimated to have increased by over 40%.
- In the U.S., the percentage of people who develop melanoma has more than doubled in the past 30 years.
- Ten percent of all people with melanoma have a family history of melanoma.
- Non-Hispanic whites have the highest incident rate of melanoma with 28 cases per 100,000 people compared to 7 per 100,000 in American Indians/Alaska Natives; 5 per 100,000 in Hispanics; and 1 per 100,000 in non-Hispanic blacks and Asians/Pacific Islanders populations.
The incidence of melanoma in men and women is different at different ages:
- Incidence rates are higher in women than in men before the age of 50, but by age 65, rates in men double those in women, and by age 80 they are triple.
- Melanoma is the third most common cancer among men and women ages 20-39.
- In the U.S., melanoma continues to be the fifth most common cancer in men of all age groups. Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in women of all age groups.
Children and young adults develop melanoma, but fortunately not at the same rate as adults:
- In the U.S., fewer than 400 cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year in patients younger than 20 years, accounting for less than 1% of all new cases of melanoma.
- The incidence of pediatric melanoma increased by an average of 1.7% per year between 1975 and 1994, but then decreased by 0.6% per year from 1995 to 2014.
- The number of children dying from melanoma has fallen significantly over the last 37 years. This improvement is thought to be the result of better education and screening.
- Melanoma is the second most common cancer in those 15-29 years old.
Indoor and Outdoor Tanning
The link between melanoma and sun—especially sunburn—is abundantly clear:
- The vast majority of melanomas are caused by UV exposure from the sun.
- Your risk for melanoma doubles if you’ve had more than five sunburns.
- One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles your chances of developing melanoma later in life.
The link between melanoma and indoor tanning is also devastatingly clear:
- The International Agency of Research on Cancer, a division of the World Health Organization, has declared ultraviolet (UV) radiation from artificial sources such as tanning beds and sun lamps as “carcinogenic to humans.” These devices were elevated to the highest cancer risk category, which includes other carcinogens such as radon, tobacco, and asbestos.
- Using indoor tanning beds and other indoor devices before the age of 35 increases your risk of melanoma by 59%, and the risk increases with each use. [12,13]
- More people develop skin cancer because of indoor tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking.
- Women younger than 30 are six times more likely to develop melanoma if they tan indoors. At all ages, the more women tan indoors, the higher their risk of developing melanoma.
- Approximately 7.8 million adult women and 1.9 million adult men in the United States tan indoors.
- Thirty-five percent of American adults, 59% of college students, and 17% of teens have reported using a tanning device in their lifetime.
- Nearly 70% of tanning salon customers are white girls and women, primarily between the ages of 15 to 29.[18,19]
- Research indicates that more than half of indoor tanners (52.5%) start tanning before the age of 21. More than 44% of those who started tanning before age 16 reported they did so with a family member. More than 49% of those who started tanning with a family member did so with their mother.
Survival & Death Rates
There has been a significant rise in overall 5-year survival in patients with melanoma over the last decade. This may be due to earlier diagnosis when tumors are still at a thinner depth, as well as improved treatment and surgical techniques.
- 4,600 males and 2,580 females are expected to die in the U.S. of melanoma during 2020.
- Survival rates, based on data from 2010-2016:
- For all stages = 93%
- Local = 99%
- Regional = 66%
- Distant = 27%
- Survival rates for White Americans and Black Americans, based on data from 2010-2016:
- White = 92%
- Black = 67%
- All races = 93%
- From 2014 to 2018, the death rate for melanoma declined by about 7% per year in adults younger than 50 years of age, and by about 5.% per year in those older.
- American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts and Figures 2021”. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2021.
- American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts and Figures 2020”. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2020.
- American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts and Figures 2019”. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2019.
- Childhood cancer by the ICCC. In: Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al., eds.: SEER Cancer Statistics Review (CSR) 1975-2014. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, Section 29.
- Wong JR, Harris JK, Rodriguez-Galindo C, et al.: Incidence of childhood and adolescent melanoma in the United States: 1973-2009. Pediatrics 131 (5): 846-54, 2013.
- Lewis KG. Trends in pediatric melanoma mortality in the United States, 1968 through 2004. Dermatol Surg. 2008;34(2):152-159.
- Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program 18 registries. Data run July 25, 2018.
- Parkin DM, Mesher D, Sasieni P. Cancers attributable to solar (ultraviolet) radiation exposure in the UK in 2010. Br J Cancer 2011; 105:S66-S69.
- Pfahlberg A, Kölmel KF, Gefeller O. Timing of excessive ultraviolet radiation and melanoma: epidemiology does not support the existence of a critical period of high susceptibility to solar ultraviolet radiation-induced melanoma. Br J Dermatol 2001; 144:3:471-475.
- Lew RA, Sober AJ, Cook N, et al. Sun exposure habits in patients with cutaneous melanoma: a case study. J Dermatol Surg Onc 1983; 12:981-6.
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 2019.
- Boniol B, Autier P, Boyle P, Gandini S. “Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: systematic review and meta-analysis”. British Medical Journal, 2012; 345:e4757. Correction published December 2012; 345:e8503.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group on artificial ultraviolet (UV) light and skin cancer “The association of use of sunbeds with cutaneous malignant melanoma and other skin cancers: A systematic review.” International Journal of Cancer. 2007 March 1;120:111-1122.
- Wehner M, Chren M-M, Nameth D, et al. International prevalence of indoor tanning: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Dermatol 2014; 150(4):390-400. Doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.6896.
- Lazovich D, et al. Association Between Indoor Tanning and Melanoma in Younger Men and Women. JAMA Dermtol. 2016; 152(3):268-275. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.2938.
- Guy GP, Berkowitz Z, Holman D and Hartman A. Recent Changes in the Prevalence and Factors Associated With Frequency of Indoor Tanning Among U.S. Adults. JAMA Dermatol 2015; Published online July 1, 2015.
- Wehner MR, Chren M, Nameth D, et al. International Prevalence of Indoor Tanning: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150 (4): 390-400. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.6896.
- Choi, K., Lazovich, D., Southwell, B., Forster, J., Rolnick, S. J., and Jackson, J. Prevalence and characteristics of indoor tanning use among men and women in the United States. Archives of Dermatology, Vol. 146 2010, No. 12, pp. 1356-61.
- NAACCR Fast Stats: An interactive tool for quick access to key NAACCR cancer statistics. North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. http://www.naaccr.org/. (Accessed on 3-10-2016).
- Watson M, Shoemaker M, Baker K. Indoor Tanning Initiation Among Tanners in the United States. JAMA Dermatol. Published online March 22, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.5898.