Skin cancer statistics


New cases of malignant melanoma, 2011, UK


Deaths from malignant melanoma, 2012, UK


Survive malignant melanoma for 10 or more years, 2010-11, England and Wales


Preventable cases of malignant melanoma, UK

  • Around 13,300 cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed in 2011 in the UK, that’s 37 people every day.
  • Like most cancers, skin cancer is more common with increasing age, but malignant melanoma rates are disproportionately high in younger people. More than one-third of all cases of malignant melanoma occur in people aged under 55.
  • More than two young adults (aged 15-34) are diagnosed with malignant melanoma every day in the UK, and it is the second most common cancer in this age group.
  • Malignant melanoma is almost twice as common in young women (up to age 34) as in young men, but more men die from it.
  • Over the last thirty years, rates of malignant melanoma in Great Britain have risen faster than any of the current ten most common cancers.
  • Malignant melanoma incidence rates have increased more than fivefold since the mid 1970s.
  • In the UK, people aged 65 and over are more likely to be diagnosed with late stage malignant melanoma than younger people.
  • The most common site for men to develop a malignant melanoma is on the chest or back. For women it is on the legs.
  • People from the most affluent areas are more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma than those from the more deprived areas.
  • Most malignant melanoma cases are diagnosed at an early stage.
  • In Europe, more than 100,000 new cases of malignant melanoma were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012. The UK incidence rate is ninth highest in Europe for males and seventh highest for females.
  • Worldwide, around 232,000 people were estimated to have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2012, with incidence rates varying across the world.
  • More than 102,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer were registered in 2011 in the UK; registration is incomplete, however, with an estimated 30-50% of BCC and around 30% of SCC going unrecorded.
  • Around three-quarters of non-melanoma skin cancer registrations are BCC and less than a quarter are SCC.

Read more in-depth skin cancer incidence statistics

  • Around 2,100 people died from malignant melanoma in 2012 in the UK, that's around 6 every day.
  • Around 6 in 10 of all people who die from malignant melanoma are under 75 years old.
  • In the UK, death rates from malignant melanoma in people aged 75 and over have more than quadrupled in the last 40 years.
  • In Europe, around 22,200 people were estimated to have died from malignant melanoma in 2012. The UK mortality rate is 19th highest in Europe for males and 17th highest for females.
  • Worldwide, around 55,500 people were estimated to have died from malignant melanoma in 2012, with mortality rates varying across the world.
  • Around 640 people died from non-melanoma skin cancer in 2012 in the UK.
  • More than 6 in 10 non-melanoma skin cancer deaths are in men.

Read more in-depth skin cancer mortality statistics

  • Overall, 9 in 10 people diagnosed with malignant melanoma survive their disease for at least ten years.
  • Malignant melanoma survival has been improving for the last forty years and is now amongst the highest for any cancer.
  • Survival for malignant melanoma has more than doubled in men over the last forty years.
  • More than 8 in 10 men and around 9 in 10 women survive malignant melanoma for at least ten years after diagnosis.
  • Five-year survival ranges from 100% in cases diagnosed at the earliest stage, to 8% (men) and 25% (women) in cases diagnosed once the disease has spread.
  • Although non-melanoma skin cancer is extremely common, in the vast majority of cases it is detected early and is not life-threatening.

Read more in-depth skin cancer survival statistics

  • 86% (90% in males and 82% in females) of malignant melanoma skin cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors.
  • A person’s risk of developing skin cancer depends  on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk  factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors). 
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main potentially avoidable risk factor for skin cancer, linked to an estimated 86% of malignant melanoma cases in the  UK. 
  • UV radiation from sunbeds, ionising radiation, certain occupational exposures, and certain medical conditions and medications cause skin cancer. 
  • Skin cancer risk varies with skin type, hair and eye colour, and number of  moles.

Read more in-depth skin cancer risk factors

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The latest statistics available for skin cancer in the UK are; incidence 2011, mortality 2012 and survival 2010-2011 (malignant melanoma only as survival data for non-melanoma skin cancer are not currently published).

The ICD code Open a glossary item for malignant melanoma of the skin is ICD-10 C43.

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 occur in other body organs, such as the eye, but such data are not shown here. On these pages "malignant melanoma" refers to malignant melanoma of the skin only.

Survival statistics give an overall picture of survival and (unless otherwise stated) include all adults (15-99) diagnosed, at all ages, stages Open a glossary item  and co-morbidities The survival time experienced by an individual patient may be much higher or lower, depending on specific patient and tumour characteristics.

Stage at diagnosis data is not yet routinely available for the UK due to inconsistencies in the collecting and recording of staging data in the past.

Meta-analyses Open a glossary item and systematic reviews Open a glossary item are cited where available, as they provide the best overview of all available research and most take study quality into account. Individual case-control and cohort studies Open a glossary item are reported where such aggregated data are lacking.

Routes to diagnosis statistics were calculated from cases of cancer registered in England which were diagnosed in 2006-2010.

Cancer waiting times statistics are for patients who entered the health care system within financial year 2014-15. Skin cancer is part of the group 'Skin cancer' for cancer waiting times data. Codes vary per country but broadly include: malignant melanoma of the skin, non-melanoma skin cancer and secondary malignant melanoma of the skin.


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Credit us as authors by referencing Cancer Research UK as the primary source. Suggested styles are:

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We would like to acknowledge the essential work of the cancer registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Cancer Registries, without which there would be no data. 

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