The aim of this study was to investigate recent trends in incidence, mortality and survival in patients diagnosed with malignant melanoma (MM) in relation to stage (Breslow thickness). Cases of primary invasive and in situ MM diagnosed between 1st January 1993 and 31st December 2003 in the former Yorkshire Health Authority were identified from cancer registry data. Over the study period, the incidence of invasive MM increased from 5.4 to 9.7 per 100,000 in male subjects and from 7.5 to 13.1 per 100,000 in female subjects. Most of this increase was seen in thin tumours (< 1.5 mm). Thin tumours were more likely to be diagnosed in the younger age groups and be classified as superficial spreading melanoma. In situ melanoma rates increased only slightly. Over the same time period, mortality rates have been relatively constant in both male and female subjects. Five-year relative survival varied from 91.8% (95% CI 90.4-93.1) for patients with thin tumours to 41.5% (95% CI 36.7-46.3) for those with thick tumours. In multivariable analyses, Breslow thickness was the most important prognostic factor. Age, sex and level of deprivation were also identified as independent prognostic factors. The trends in incidence suggest that the increase is real, rather than an artefact of increased scrutiny, implying that primary prevention in the Yorkshire area of the UK has failed to control trends in incidence. Mortality, in contrast, appears to be levelling off, indicating that secondary prevention has been more effective.