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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. The ICD code for malignant melanoma of the skin is ICD-10 C43.

Non-melanoma skin cancer mortality statistics are also presented here. The ICD code for non-melanoma skin cancer is ICD-10 C44.

Malignant melanoma of the skin is less common than non-melanoma skin cancer, but is the most serious type of skin cancer. Melanomas can also occur in other body organs, such as the eye, but such data are not shown here. On this page “malignant melanoma” refers to malignant melanoma of the skin only.

The latest mortality statistics available for malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in the UK are 2011. Find out why these are the latest statistics available.

 

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

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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

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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

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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

Worldwide cancer mortality data are collated and distributed by the World Health Organisation.7 As with the collation of incidence data, there is wide variation in the coverage of death registration systems across the world, with two-thirds of the world’s populations living in regions that are not covered by mortality statistics, as well as variation in the quality of the cause of death information itself.7 The International Agency for Research on Cancer routinely uses the available data to estimate worldwide cancer mortality.9

Malignant melanoma is the 23rd most common cause of cancer death worldwide, estimated to be responsible for more than 46,000 deaths in 2008 (around 0.6% of the total). Malignant melanoma mortality rates are highest in Australia and New Zealand and lowest in South Central Asia, with a 49-fold variation in World AS mortality rates between the regions of the world for males, and a 23-fold variation for females (Figure 2.4).9

Figure 2.4: Malignant Melanoma (C43), World Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, World Regions, 2008 Estimates

world_mort_mmelanoma.swf

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Within the 27 countries of the European Union (EU-27), the highest malignant melanoma European AS mortality rates are estimated to be in Sweden for both males (around 5 deaths per 100,000) and females (around 3 deaths per 100,000), and the lowest rates are estimated to be in Cyprus for males (1 male death per 100,000), and Greece for females (around 1 female death per 100,000) (Figure 2.5).10

Figure 2.5: Malignant Melanoma (C43), European Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, EU-27 Countries, 2008 Estimates

EU27_mort_mmelanoma.swf

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UK malignant melanoma mortality rates are estimated to be the 14th (males) and 13th (females) highest in Europe (EU-27).

section reviewed 21/08/13
section updated 03/08/12

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, Forman D, Mathers C, Parkin DM. Estimates of worldwide burden of cancer in 2008: GLOBOCAN 2008. Int J Cancer 2010;127:2893-917.
  10. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, Forman D, Mathers C, Parkin DM. 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.
Updated: 21 August 2013