Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. At a time when cancer rates for other common cancers have declined, rates of melanoma have tripled over the last 30 years.
Melanoma is a cancer of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, which give each of us our unique skin color. Most melanomas originate on sun-exposed skin, though they can also develop in other parts of the body containing melanocytes, including the eyes, palms, soles, or under fingernails.
How Common is Melanoma?
Melanoma of the skin is one of the most common cancers in the United States where, each year, more than 91,270 Americans are diagnosed -- an average of one person every eight minutes.
Who Gets Melanoma?
Anyone can get melanoma, but it is more common in people born with light skin, light-colored hair, and blue or green eyes.
What Causes Melanoma?
Experts believe that 90% of all melanomas are caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun or indoor tanning devices. However, some melanomas do form in places that are not exposed to sunlight, indicating that other factors can play a role in some cases.
During its early stages, melanoma can be successfully treated with surgery alone. Other types of cancer treatment, including immunotherapy and targeted therapy, are more effective for advanced stages of melanoma.
Melanoma survival rates provide the proportion of people with a particular stage of melanoma who are alive after a predetermined amount of time, typically five or ten years, post-diagnosis. Keep in mind that these numbers are accurate for a group of people, but they don’t provide a complete picture for any one individual.
Five-year survival rate by melanoma stage:
Localized melanoma: stage 0, stage 1, and stage 2: 98.5%