Incidence of and survival from malignant melanoma in Scotland: an epidemiological study

Lancet. 2002 Aug 24;360(9333):587-91. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(02)09779-9.


Background: We aimed to assess the incidence and survival for all patients with invasive primary cutaneous malignant melanoma diagnosed in Scotland, UK, during 1979-98.

Methods: The Scottish Melanoma Group obtained data for 8830 patients (3301 male and 5529 female) first diagnosed with invasive cutaneous malignant melanoma.

Findings: Age-standardised incidence rose from 3.5 in 1979 to 10.6 per 10(5) population in 1998 for men, and from 7.0 to 13.1 for women, a rise of 303% and 187%, respectively. After 1995, the rate of increase levelled in women younger than 65 years at diagnosis. Melanoma incidence increased most in men on the trunk, head, and neck and in women on the leg. 5-year survival rose from 58% to 80% for men diagnosed in 1979 and 1993, respectively, and from 74% to 85% for women; improvements of 38% (p<0.001) and 15% (p<0.001), respectively. Most improvement was attributable to a higher proportion of thinner tumours. Male mortality from melanoma was 1.9/10(5) population per year at the start and end of the study, whereas mortality for men younger than 65 years at diagnosis rose from 1.2 to 1.35 (p=0.24). For all women, mortality fell slightly from 1.9 to 1.85/10(5) population per year (p=0.61), whereas for women younger than 65 years at diagnosis, mortality fell from 1.3 to 1.15 (p=0.62).

Interpretation: Interventions aimed at both primary and secondary prevention of melanoma are justified. Specialist tumour registers for entire countries can be used to plan and monitor public health interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Melanoma / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Survival Rate