MELANOMA FACTS & STATS
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.
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019 notes “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)
- 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.
- Melanoma is one of the most common cancer types found in young adults aged 15-29[i].
- Melanoma is the 4th most common cancer types found in Canadians aged 30-49 [a]
- The survival rate for melanoma is high if it is detected early and unlike many cancers, melanoma is often clearly visible on the skin.
- In 2019, approximately 7,800 (4,300 males and 3,500 females) Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma and it is estimated that there will be 1300 deaths.
- 840 males and 450 females died from melanoma in 2019[iii].
- 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)[iv].
- A single blistering sunburn before the age of 20 increases the risk of developing melanoma later in life.
- UV exposure can lead to skin damage such as early wrinkling and photoaging.(v)
- Artificial tanning devices emit 15x the amount of UV rays as from sun exposure (vi)
- Early exposure to tanning beds can increase a person’s chance of developing melanoma by up to 75%.
- One indoor tanning session can increase the risk of skin cancer (Ontario Sun Safety Working Group)
- Outdoor workers are up to 2.5 to 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancers (Ontario Sun Safety Working Group)
*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.
1,300 Canadians are estimated to die from melanoma in 2019
Percentage of mortality rates of melanoma by gender
Projected deaths for melanoma by gender, Canada, 2019
1 in 840 males
1 in 450 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.
With the rising number of new cancer cases, there will be a corresponding increase in the need for screening, diagnostics, treatment and support services, including palliative care. It will also be important to promptly develop strategies to address the cancers that are showing significant increases in incidence rates, such as liver, thyroid and melanoma.
Tumour-based prevalence for melanoma by duration and gender, Canada,* January 1, 2009
10-year (diagnosed since 1999) 19,895 males | 19,600 females
5-year (diagnosed since 2004) 11,985 males | 11,380 females
2-year (diagnosed since 2007) 5,530 males | 5,105 females
* During the estimation process, cases from Quebec were excluded because of issues in correctly ascertaining the vital status of cases. The presented estimates, however, are for all of Canada, including Quebec. These estimates assume that sex- and age-specific tumour-based prevalence proportions in Quebec are similar to the rest of Canada.
Melanoma accounts for 3% of all newly diagnosed cancer cases, and represents 5% of all 10-year prevalent cancer cases.
Five-year age-standardized net and observed survival percentages for melanoma by sex, for ages 15–99 in Canada (excluding Quebec), 2006–2008
Five-year age-standardized net survival for melanoma on having survived the specified number of years, ages 15–99 in Canada (excluding Quebec), 2006–2008
Note: Net survival is estimated using age-standardized relative survival ratios. For further details, see Appendix II: Data sources and methods. For each cancer in turn, the age distribution of persons recorded as being diagnosed with the given cancer in Canada from 2004–2008 was used as the standard. “All cancers” excludes adolescent (15–19 years) bone cancers, which are dissimilar to those diagnosed in older adults, and non-melanoma skin cancers (neoplasms, NOS; epithelial neoplasms, NOS; and basal and squamous).
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] Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory. Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2019.Available at: https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/canadian-cancer-statistics-publication/?region=bc Accessed on September 25, 2019  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. [i] Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory. Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2017.Available at: https://goo.gl/q7m9tB [ii] Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory. Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2017. Available at: https://goo.gl/ZxY9ht [iii] Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory. Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019 Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2019. Available at: https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/canadian-cancer-statistics-publication/?region=bc
(v) (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).
(vi) (Gerber, B., Mathys, P., Moser, M., Bressoud, D., & Braun-Fahrländer, C. (2002). Ultraviolet emission spectra of sunbeds. Photochemistry and Photobiology, 76(6), 664-668).