Age and Risk
Melanoma used to be considered a disease of older people, since about half of melanomas occur in people over the age of 50, with the median age at diagnosis being 59.
In the U.S., approximately 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.1 Melanoma annual incidence in the United States (2010–2014) increases with age, as follows:2
- Children younger than 10 years: 1 to 2 cases per 1 million
- Children aged 10 to 14 years: 3.0 cases per 1 million
- Children aged 15 to 19 years: 10.1 cases per 1 million
Melanoma accounts for about 4% of all cancers in children aged 15 to 19 years.2, 3
The incidence of pediatric melanoma increased by an average of 1.7% per year between 1975 and 1994,2 but then decreased by 0.6% per year from 1995 to 2014.4
The number of children dying from melanoma has fallen significantly over the last 36 years.5 This improvement is thought to be the result of better education and screening.
Young people are at greater risk if there is a family history of melanoma, therefore, even young children should be screened in this circumstance.
Teen and Young Adults
Melanoma accounts for 6 percent of cancer cases in teens 15-29 years old.6
It is the third most common cancer among women ages 20-39 and the second most common cancer in men ages 20-39.7
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.8
From 2006 to 2015, the rate increased by 3% per year among men and women ages 50 and older.8 However, it had stabilized among men and women younger than age 50.8
From 2007 to 2016, the death rate for melanoma declined by about 2% per year in adults 50 years of age and older and by about 4% per year in those younger than 50.8
1. National Cancer Institute: SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Melanoma of the Skin. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute. Available online. Last accessed November 30, 2017.
2. 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.
3. Bleyer A, O’Leary M, Barr R, et al., eds.: Cancer Epidemiology in Older Adolescents and Young Adults 15 to 29 Years of Age, Including SEER Incidence and Survival: 1975-2000. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, 2006. NIH Pub. No. 06-5767. Also available online. Last accessed January 26, 2018.
4. 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
5. Lewis KG. Trends in pediatric melanoma mortality in the United States, 1968 through 2004. Dermatol Surg. 2008;34(2):152-159.
6. American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts and Figures 2016”. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2015.
7. Based on data from 2008 - 2012.
8. American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts and Figures 2018”. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2019.