Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that usually occurs on parts of the body that have been overexposed to the sun (Cancer Council Victoria 2018).
Rare melanomas can occur inside the eye or in parts of the skin or body that have never been exposed to the sun.
Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world.
In Victoria in 2017, there were 2,993 cases of melanoma. In the same year, there were 270 deaths due to the disease (Cancer Council Victoria 2018).
While most Victorians (90 per cent) diagnosed with cutaneous (skin) melanoma had only a single primary lesion, 8 per cent of Victorians had two melanomas and 2 per cent had three or more primary lesions. Twenty Victorians had 10 or more separate primary melanomas (Cancer Council Victoria 2018).
In both men and women, melanoma incidence rates increase with age, starting at around 20, with rates higher in women between the ages of 20 and 50 years (see figure below).
At 50 years, rates are almost equal, but thereafter male rates increase more rapidly to become twice those for females by 80 years (Cancer Council Victoria 2018).
Figure 1 shows the age-specific incidence rates for melanoma for Victorian men and women 2014–16.
Source: Cancer Council of Victoria 2018
Overall, five-year survival from melanoma has increased from 83 per cent to 91 per cent over the period 1982–86 to 2012–16 (Cancer Council Victoria 2018).
Increasing sun protection and early detection are key to further increasing overall survival from melanoma.
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Reviewed 10 March 2023