Melanoma burden rising: new prevention campaign vital

Source: Insight Plus, May 2022

MELANOMA is a common cancer in Australia. Each year in this country, more than 16 000 people are diagnosed with invasive melanoma, and almost twice that number are diagnosed with in situ disease. Unfortunately, around 1300 Australians will die from melanoma this year. But while Australia and New Zealand hold the unenviable position of having the world’s highest incidence rates of melanoma, a recent publication, of which we were co-authors, highlights the fact that melanoma is becoming increasingly common in other parts of the world.

Arnold and colleagues analysed cancer registration data from across the world to provide a snapshot of the global burden of melanoma. We estimated around 325 000 new cases of melanoma worldwide in 2020, and around 57 000 deaths from melanoma. Further, we measured recent trends in melanoma incidence and deaths in each country, broken down by age group and sex, and then assuming that current underlying trends will continue into the future, we projected likely patterns of incidence and mortality out to 2040. Under those assumptions, we estimated that the global melanoma burden will grow to 510 000 new cases per year and 96 000 deaths per year by 2040.

These figures are sobering, especially since we know that the majority of cutaneous melanomas are caused by sun exposure and are therefore amenable to prevention.