Melanoma Skin Cancer

Melanoma is a cancer that starts in the cells that produce melanin, called melanocytes. Most melanocytes are located in the skin; almost all melanomas are skin cancers. It occurs when a melanocyte grows uncontrollably and develops into a tumour. Melanoma is most frequently found on the back of men and on the back and legs of women. It is the least common, but most serious, type of skin cancer.

  • In 2017 an estimated 7,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma and 1,250 Canadians will die from it. Melanoma accounts for about 3.9% of new cancer cases and 1.9% of all cancer deaths in men, and 3.2% and 1.2% respectively in women.
  • 1 in 56 men and 1 in 74 women is expected to develop melanoma during their lifetime; 1 in 241 men, and 1 in 397 women, will die of it.
  • Superficial spreading melanoma, nodular melanoma, lentigo maligna melanoma, and acral lentiginous melanoma make up 90% of all diagnosed melanomas. Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type and represents 70% of all melanomas.
  • The incidence rate of melanoma has increased during the past 25 years.
  • The 5-year relative survival rate for melanoma is 85% in men and 92% in women.

Risk Factors

There is no single cause of melanoma skin cancer. Some factors may increase a person's chance of developing melanoma:

Managing Melanoma Skin Cancer

Facts & Figures

Knowledge Development and Exchange

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