Melanoma epidemiology and trends

Clin Dermatol. 2009 Jan-Feb;27(1):3-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2008.09.001.


Rising incidence rates of cutaneous melanoma have been observed during the last four decades in white populations worldwide. The cancer statistics in the United States have revealed 6 cases per 100,000 and year at the beginning of the 1970s and 18 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and year at the beginning of 2000, demonstrating a threefold increase in incidence rates. Incidence rates in central Europe increased in the same time period from 3 to 4 cases to 10 to 15 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and year, which is very similar to the increase in the United States. Cohort studies from several countries indicate that the trend of increasing incidence rates will continue in the future for at least the next 2 decades; thus, an additional doubling of incidence rates is expected. The highest incidence rates have been reported from Australia and New Zealand, from 40 to 60 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and year. Mortality rates likewise slightly increased in the United States and in Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990 s, however, a leveling off of mortality rates was observed in many countries. Simultaneously, a clear decrease of Breslow tumor thickness was reported in the United States and European countries. This development indicates improved early recognition of cutaneous melanoma, which is presently the main factor for a more favorable prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Melanoma / epidemiology*
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Sunlight / adverse effects