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 2016 an estimated 6,800 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma and 1,200 Canadians will die from it. Melanoma accounts for about 3.6% of new cancer cases and 1.8% of all cancer deaths in men, and 3.2% and 1.2% respectively in women.
- 1 in 57 men and 1 in 74 women is expected to develop melanoma during their lifetime; 1 in 227 men, and 1 in 456 women, will die of it.
- Superfical spreading melanoma, nodular melanoma, lentigo maligna melanoma, and acral lentiginous melanoma make up 90% of all diagnosed melanomas. Superfical 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.
There is no single cause of melanoma skin cancer. Some factors may increase a person's chance of developing melanoma:
- Personal or family history of melanoma.
- Presence of moles--especially if there are many, or if they are unusual or large.
- Sun sensitivity--sun burning easily, or difficulty tanning.
- Light colored skin, eyes, and hair.
- History of excessive sun exposure.
- Diseases that suppress the immune system.
- Occupational exposure to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds, or radium.
- Prevent Skin Cancer: Stay Safe in the Sun
- How can I protect myself, and my family, from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays?
- What can I do to reduce my risk of cancer?
- How should I eat to reduce my risk of cancer?
Managing Melanoma Skin Cancer
Facts & Figures
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