Melanoma Stats and Facts
MELANOMA STATS & FACTS
The leading cause of melanoma is the over exposure to ultroviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources. Exposed human skin can tan or burn – both are signs of damage to the underlying cells. A burn, in particular, is a marker of extensive damage that normal DNA repair mechanisms may not be able to repair. Sunburn at any age is an indicator of UVR overexposure (generally intermittent exposure) and increases the risk of skin cancer, particularly of melanoma. The rate of melanoma skin cancer is still increasing although this is a largely preventable cancer.
- Melanoma is a very serious and potentially deadly form of skin cancer and is one of the few cancers with incidence rates on the rise.
- The survival rate for melanoma is high if it is detected early and unlike many cancers, melanoma is often clearly visible on the skin.
- Melanoma can affect anyone regardless of sex, age or race.
- The leading cause of melanoma is overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources (tanning beds, sunlamps) .
- A single blistering sunburn before the age of 20 increases the risk of developing melanoma later in life.
- One indoor tanning session can increase the risk of skin cancer (Ontario Sun Safety Working Group)
- UV exposure can lead to skin damage such as early wrinkling and photoaging .
UV-emitting tanning devices are now also classified as carcinogenic to humans based on their association with skin and ocular melanoma cancers .
- Melanoma is one of the most common cancer types found in young adults aged 15-29 and 30-49 .
- Melanoma is the 7th most commonly diagnosed cancers in Canada .
- In 2021, approximately 8,700 (4,700 males, and 4,000 females) Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer. This is an increase of 8.5% from 2020
- In 2020, 1,240 Canadians died from melanoma. (790 males, and 450 females)
- According to World Health Organization (WHO) 85% of melanomas among Canadian men and women aged 30+ years are attributed to UV radiation exposure. 
- Early exposure to tanning beds can increase a person’s chance of developing melanoma by up to 75%. 
- Artificial tanning devices emit 15x the amount of UV rays as from sun exposure 
- Outdoor workers are up to 2.5 to 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancers (Ontario Sun Safety Working Group)
Impact of COVID-19
- In Canada 1,999 melanomas undiagnosed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. [gc]
A Global survey of over 700 dermatologists estimates 21% of early-stage melanoma undiagnosed due to 33% of professional skin-check appointments missed during COVID lockdowns.
Non Melanoma Skin Cancer Stats
- Over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer, making up about 75% of all non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed.
- The leading cause of skin cancer is overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation
Projected new cases for melanoma, by sex and province, Canada 2021
*Canada totals include provincial and territorial estimates. Territories are
not included separately due to small numbers.
** Quebec was not included because a different projection method
was used for Quebec than the other regions, meaning the
estimates are not comparable. See Appendix II: Data source and
methods for additional details.
Melanoma is on the Rise
In males, the incidence rate for melanoma has increased steadily at about 2.2% per year since 1984. In females, the incidence rate for melanoma was stable from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, but it began increasing after 1994 (2.0%). Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation through sunlight, tanning beds and sun lamps is a well established risk factor for melanoma.(23) Other risk factors include having a fair complexion, the number and type of moles, personal and family history of skin cancer, a weakened immune system and a history of severe blistering sunburns.
Annual Percentage of Change for Melanoma Incidence Rates
1,240 Canadians are estimated to die from melanoma in 2021
Projected deaths from melanoma by gender, Canada, 2021
Lifetime Probability of dying from melanoma by gender, Canada, 2019
1 in 211 males
1 in 479 females
Melanoma is one of the most common cancer deaths for youth aged 15-29 and young adults 30-49. It accounts for 4% of all cancer deaths for both age categories.
Although melanoma rates are on the rise. we’ve seen a decrease of percentage in mortality rates. These decreases have largely been attributed to the introduction of improved drug therapies and early diagnosis, as well as the implementation of awareness programs.
Annual Percentage of Change for Melanoma Mortality Rates
Predicted 5 Year Net Survival, Canada (2015-2017)
Predicted 10 Year Net Survival, Canada (2015-2017)
Melanoma 5 year net survival rate by age (2015-2017) *excluding Quebec
(15-44) 95% (45-54) 94%
(55-64) 91% (65-74) 90%
(75-84) 83% (85-99) 75%
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019 Appendix II note: Non-melanoma skin cancers (neoplasms, NOS; epithelial neoplasms, NOS; basal and squamous) are not included since most PTCRs do not collect incidence data on this type of cancer. These cancers are difficult to register because they may be diagnosed and/or treated in a variety of settings that do not report to the PTCRs, including dermatologist offices.
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2021. Produced by Canadian Cancer Society, Statistics Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Provincial/Territorial Cancer Registries cancer.ca/statistics. Available at: https://bit.ly/38yHITD
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019. Produced by Canadian Cancer Society, Statistics Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Provincial/Territorial Cancer Registries cancer.ca/statistics. Available at: https://bit.ly/3euAJcL
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017. Produced by Canadian Cancer Society, Statistics Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Provincial/Territorial Cancer Registries cancer.ca/statistics. Available at: https://goo.gl/ZxY9ht
Canadian Cancer Society. Melanoma Overview. Available at: http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/skin-melanoma/overview/.
[a] 2020 Canadian Melanoma skin Cancer Statistics. Available at: https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/skin-melanoma/statistics/?region=on
 Canadian Cancer Society. Melanoma Overview. Available at: http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/skin-melanoma/overview/.
 Canadian Dermatology Association Photoaging: https://dermatology.ca/public-patients/skin/photoaging/
 World Health Organization https://www.who.int/activities/preventing-cancer
Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory. Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2019. Available at: cancer.ca Accessed on April 16, 2020
 World Health Organization Cancers Attributalbe to UV Radiation https://gco.iarc.fr/causes/uv/tools
 International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group on artificial ultraviolet l, skin c. The association of use of sunbeds with cutaneous malignant melanoma and other skin cancers: A systematic review. Int J Cancer 2007;120(5):1116-22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17131335
 (IARC Working Group on Risk of Skin Cancer and Exposure to Artificial Ultraviolet Light, International Agency for Research on Cancer (Eds.).Exposure to Artificial UV Radiation and Skin Cancer. Lyon, France: World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2006.; Yam JCS, Kwok AKH. Ultraviolet light and ocular diseases. Int Ophthalmol 2014;34(2):383–400. PMID: 23722672).
 (Gerber, B., Mathys, P., Moser, M., Bressoud, D., & Braun-Fahrländer, C. (2002). Ultraviolet emission spectra of sunbeds. Photochemistry and Photobiology, 76(6), 664-668).
[gc] Global Coalition survey data https://www.melanomanetwork.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Missed-melanoma-data-for-May-2021-campaign.xlsx