Incidence of melanoma in Ireland on the rise, particularly in men

The latest report on skin cancer published by the Registry today shows that almost 11,000 new cases are diagnosed per year in Ireland, of which just under 1,000 are malignant melanoma. Currently the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer (“NMSC”- the much more common, and usually regarded as the less serious form of skin cancer) is 46% higher in men than in women, while the incidence of melanoma is similar between the sexes with approximately 20 cases diagnosed per 100,000 persons per year. However, the incidence of melanoma is increasing, particularly in men, and analysis shows that male incidence rates have increased by just over 5% per year since 1994. Although female incidence rates have also increased over time, they have done so at a lower rate (2.7% per year). Incidence rates of NMSC have also increased substantially since the 1990's. Male melanoma patients tended to be diagnosed at a later stage than females and for both sexes, elderly patients were more likely to have larger and later stage tumours. 

Mortality from melanoma is also on the increase and currently approximately 160 deaths occur from melanoma each year, up from under 60 deaths per year in the mid-1990s and from less than 20 deaths per year during the 1950s. Since 1994, mortality rates for melanoma have increased by 2.3% per year in females and 4.7% per year in males. Comparatively few deaths (n=70) are attributed to NMSC each year and this is reflected in the five year survival rate for NMSC which has been close to 100% since the 1990's. Survival from melanoma has increased since the 1990's which may be a result of improvements in treatment for late stage tumours as well as more patients presenting with earlier stage disease. 

If you have any concerns about cancer or need any other information, please see the Irish Cancer Society or the Irish Skin Foundation. The recently published National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 outlines the Department of Health’s plans for cancer prevention and control and prioritises the development of a national skin cancer prevention plan targeting children, outdoor workers, sunbed users and those who pursue outdoor leisure activities.

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