How common is melanoma?

Jenny C. Hu, MD
About one American dies of melanoma almost every hour, and one in 69 people will be diagnosed with the disease. Melanoma diagnosis is on the increase in young people in particular: one in 53 people born in 2006 will be diagnosed with melanoma in his or her lifetime. Further, melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 29 years.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. While not the most common form of skin cancer, it causes the most deaths. About 10,000 people will die this year from melanoma. More prevalent in men than women, it preys on people with fair skin and those who burn easily; however, no one is immune. And, despite a better understanding of the need for sun protection, the changes in our environment have contributed to a 690 percent increase in melanoma in the last 50 years.
Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer, and the incidence of melanoma, the most dangerous of skin cancers, have risen much faster than the other cancers over the last few decades.

Despite the fact that there is more public awareness about the dangers of excessive sun exposure and tanning, it is clear that more cases of melanoma are showing up each year.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there were 68,720 new cases of melanoma and 8,650 deaths from melanoma in the United States in 2009. The lifetime risk of developing melanoma, says the ACS, is about 1 in 50 for whites, 1 in 1,000 for blacks, and 1 in 200 for Hispanics.

More than 53,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year in the United States. The number of new melanoma cases is increasing every year. It's not the most common type of skin cancer, but it is the most serious. Talk to your doctor if you think you have symptoms of melanoma.

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