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Skin cancer mortality statistics

Mortality statistics for malignant melanoma of the skin (cutaneous) by country in the UK, age and trends over time are presented here. There are also data on geographic variation. 

Find out more about the coding and counting of this data.

 

By country in the UK

Malignant melanoma is the 18th most common cause of cancer death in the UK (2011), accounting for 1% of all deaths from cancer. Malignant melanoma is the 17th most common cause of cancer death among men in the UK (2011), accounting for 2% of all male deaths from cancer. Among women in the UK, malignant melanoma is the 18th most common cause of cancer death in the UK (2011), accounting for 1% of all female cancer deaths.1-3

In 2011, there were 2,209 deaths from malignant melanoma in the UK (Table 2.1): 1,295 (59%) in men and 914 (41%) in women, giving a male:female ratio of 14:10.1-3 The crude mortality rate shows that there are 4 malignant melanoma deaths for every 100,000 males in the UK and 3 for every 100,000 females. 

The European age-standardised mortality rates (AS rates) do not differ significantly between the constituent countries of the UK (Table 2.1).1-3

Table 2.1: Malignant Melanoma (C43), Number of Deaths, Crude and European Age-Standardised (AS) Mortality Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2011

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland UK
Male Deaths 1,088 75 105 27 1,295
Crude Rate 4.2 5.0 4.1 3.0 4.2
AS Rate 3.3 3.9 3.3 2.8 3.4
AS Rate - 95% LCL 3.1 3.0 2.7 1.8 3.2
AS Rate - 95% UCL 3.5 4.8 3.9 3.9 3.5
Female Deaths 783 43 71 17 914
Crude Rate 2.9 2.8 2.6 1.8 2.8
AS Rate 2.0 2.0 1.8 1.3 2.0
AS Rate - 95% LCL 1.9 1.4 1.3 0.7 1.8
AS Rate - 95% UCL 2.1 2.6 2.2 1.9 2.1
Persons Deaths 1,871 118 176 44 2,209
Crude Rate 3.5 3.9 3.3 2.4 3.5
AS Rate 2.6 2.9 2.4 2.0 2.6
AS Rate - 95% LCL 2.5 2.4 2.1 1.4 2.5
AS Rate - 95% UCL 2.7 3.4 2.8 2.6 2.7

Download this table XLS (36KB) PPT (169KB) PDF (26KB)

95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits around the AS rate

The latest analysis of malignant melanoma mortality rates throughout the UK reports only modest variation between the former cancer networks.4,5

section reviewed 21/08/13
section updated 21/08/13

 

By age

Malignant melanoma mortality is strongly related to age, with the highest mortality rates being in older men and women. In the UK between 2009 and 2011, an average of 5% of malignant melanoma deaths were in the 15-39 age group, whilst an average of 38% of deaths were in people aged 75 years and over (Figure 2.1).1-3

Age-specific mortality rates increase sharply from around age 50-54 years in both men and women, reaching a peak at age 85 and over in both sexes. Mortality rates are generally similar between males and females until age 50-54 onwards, when rates are higher for males than for females. This is in contrast to incidence rates which are higher for females until the mid-50s. The widest gap between the ages is for those aged 70-74 years when the male:female mortality ratio of age-specific rates (to account for the different proportions of males to females in each age group) is 20:10.

Figure 2.1: Malignant Melanoma (C43), Average Number of Deaths per Year and Age-Specific Mortality Rates, UK, 2009-2011

deaths_crude_mmelanoma.swf

Download this chart XLS (59KB) PPT (139KB) PDF (47KB)

section reviewed 21/08/13
section updated 21/08/13

 

Trends over time

Malignant melanoma mortality rates have increased overall in the UK since the early 1970s (Figure 2.2).1-3 For males, European AS mortality rates increased by 185% between 1971-1973 and 2009-2011. The rise is smaller for women, with rates increasing by 55% between 1971-1973 and 2009-2011. From the late 1980s onwards, mortality rates have increased much more quickly in males than in females, causing a divergence of the rates between the sexes. This is in contrast to malignant melanoma incidence rates in males and females, which have converged in the last decades.

Over the last decade (between 2000-2002 and 2009-2011), the European AS mortality rates have increased by 22% in males and remained stable in females. The increase in malignant melanoma mortality rates is likely to be a reflection of the increase in incidence rates. The increase in mortality rates is much less pronounced, however, due to improvements in survival (as a result of earlier diagnosis and better treatment). The lower mortality rates in females since the mid-1980s mirror the better survival rates seen in women. 

Figure 2.2: Malignant Melanoma (C43), European Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, UK, 1971-2011

mort_asr_uk_mmelanoma.swf

Download this chart XLS (56KB) PPT (134KB) PDF (44KB)

Malignant melanoma mortality rates have increased overall for most of the broad age groups in the UK since the early 1970s, except those aged 15-39 and 40-49 years (Figure 2.3).1-3 The largest increases have been in people aged 75 years and over, with European AS mortality more than quadrupling between 1971-1973 and 2009-2011. The increase in mortality rates over time in the older age groups may be explained in part by late diagnosis and figures have recently shown that people aged 65 and over are more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma at a late stage compare with younger people.6

Figure 2.3: Malignant Melanoma (C43), European Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, By Age, Persons, UK, 1971-2011

mort_asr_age_p_mmelanoma.swf

Download this chart XLS (58KB) PPT (136KB) PDF (45KB)

section reviewed 21/08/13
section updated 21/08/13

In Europe and worldwide

Malignant melanoma is the 19th most common cause of cancer death in Europe, with around 22,200 deaths from malignant melanoma in 2012 (1% of the total). In Europe (2012), the highest World age-standardised mortality rates for malignant melanoma are in Norway for men and Slovenia for women; the lowest rates are in Albania for men and Malta for women. UK malignant melanoma mortality rates are estimated to be the 19th highest in males in Europe, and 17th highest in females.15 These data are broadly in line with Europe-specific data available elsewhere.16

There were around 55,500 deaths from malignant melanoma worldwide in 2012 (0.7% of total cancer deaths). Malignant melanoma mortality rates are highest in Australia/New Zealand and lowest in South Central Asia, but this partly reflects varying data quality worldwide.15

Use our interactive map to explore the data for malignant melanoma.

section reviewed 27/05/14
section updated 27/05/14

Non-melanoma skin cancer

Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is an extremely common cancer, but relatively few deaths are caused by it. In 2011, there were 585 deaths from NMSC in the UK; of which 62% were in males.1-3

The majority of NMSCs are either basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), also known as rodent ulcers, or squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). Both forms are highly treatable and survival rates for NMSCs are very high.11 However, if left untreated, these tumours can become destructive. BCCs rarely metastasise and are unlikely to be fatal, though they can cause disfigurement;12 in contrast SCCs sometimes spread and can therefore lead to death.13

section reviewed 21/08/13
section updated 21/08/13

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References for skin cancer mortality

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, March 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/all-releases.html?definition=tcm%3A77-27475.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, March 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/general/ref-tables/index.html.
  3. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nisra.gov.uk/demography/default.asp22.htm.
  4. NCIN. Cancer Incidence and Mortality by Cancer Network, UK, 2005. London: NCIN; 2008.
  5. NCIN. Cancer e-Atlas. European Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, UK (England: former Primary Care Trusts; Wales; Scotland: NHS Health Boards; Northern Ireland: Health and Social Care Trusts), 2009-2011.
  6. MacKie RM, Bray CA, Hole DJ, et al. Incidence of and survival from malignant melanoma in Scotland: an epidemiological study. Lancet 2002; 360:587-91
  7. The Eastern Cancer Registration and Information Centre (ECRIC) 2010, personal communication. http://www.ecric.org.uk/
  8. World Health Organisation. Global Health Observatory Data Repository. Accessed July 2012.
  9. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. Estimates of worldwide burden of cancer in 2008: GLOBOCAN 2008. Int J Cancer 2010;127:2893-917.
  10. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 10 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2010. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr. Accessed May 2012.
  11. European Age-Standardised rates calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK, 2011 using data from GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, IARC, version 1.2. http://globocan.iarc.fr.
  12. Madan V, Lear JT, Szeimies RM. Non-melanoma skin cancer. Lancet. 2010;375(9715):673-85.
  13. Miller SJ, Alam M, Andersen J et al. Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2010;8(8):836-6.4
  14. Epstein EH. Basal cell carcinomas: attack of the hedgehog. Nat Rev Cancer. 2008;8(10):743-54.
  15. Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr, accessed December 2013.
  16. Ferlay J, Steliarova-Foucher E, Lortet-Tieulent J, et al.Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries in 2012. European Journal of Cancer (2013) 49, 1374-1403.
Updated: 21 August 2013