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How common is malignant melanoma?

  • There are two main types of skin cancer: non-melanoma skin cancer, which is very common, and malignant melanoma which is less common but more serious.

  • In 2007 approximately 10,670 cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed in the UK.

  • In Britain over the last 30 years malignant melanoma incidence rates have more than quadrupled.

  • Skin cancer, like most cancers is more common with increasing age, but malignant melanoma is disproportionately high in younger people.

  • Approximately one third of all cases of malignant melanoma occur in people under the age of 50.

  • In young adults (15-34 years) malignant melanoma is the second most common cancer in the UK.

  • Malignant melanoma is almost twice as common in young women (up to age 34) as in young men, but more men die from it.

  • Rates of malignant melanoma in Britain over the last 25 years have risen faster than any other common cancer.

  • If current trends continue, it is predicted that within the next 15 years, there will be 15,500 cases of malignant melanoma diagnosed per year

  • The most common site for men to develop a malignant melanoma is on the chest or back. For women it is on the legs.

  • In 2008 worldwide, approximately 197,000 people were diagnosed with malignant melanoma.

  • Worldwide, the highest rates of malignant melanoma are in Australia and New Zealand.

Rates of melanoma have increased faster than any other cancer in the UK. In the UK there are approximately 10 melanomas per 100,000. There are more skin cancer deaths in the UK than in Australia, even though Australia has more cases of the disease.

For successful treatment of melanoma, early detection is important. It is essential to check your skin regularly and seek expert medical advice immediately should you notice any changes.


  • Shade
  • Clothing
  • Sun Cream
  • SunGlasses
  • Hat

Taking protective measures from the sun involves limiting the penetration of harmful UV radiation in to the skin. This minimises the risk of photocarcinogenesis, photoimmunosuppression and photoaging.

Protection from the sun involves avoiding the sun during peak times, covering up, and wearing sun cream.