Mortality and morbidity

About 106 000 people around the world were diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma in 1990. Since melanoma can be a fatal disease if diagnosed at a late stage, this represents many lost potential life-years, as well as direct costs to health services. It is estimated that at

Male Female

Australia New Zealand Norway Sweden Switzerland Denmark United States of America

Netherlands Luxembourg Finland Canada Czech Republic Germany United Kingdom

30 25 20 15 10 5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Incidence: Age-standardized rates (world) per 100 000 (all ages)

Figure 22.2 Estimated age-standardised rates for cutaneous melanoma of the skin in 1990

least 2 750 000 people were diagnosed with non-melanocytic cancers (basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)) of the skin in 1985. These represent more than 30% of newly diagnosed cancers.2 Mortality from melanoma increased after the 1970s, particularly in white males, possibly as a result of increased recreational exposure to sunlight.3,4 During the next few years about 51 400 individuals are expected to develop melanoma and almost 7800 to die of the disease.

The incidence increased 126% between 1973 and 1995, at a rate of approximately 6% per year. Non-melanocytic skin cancers are not usually considered life threatening but they represent a huge toll on health service budgets as well as days lost at the workplace and therefore employer and insurance costs. In Australia, and increasingly in the USA, UK and

Male Female

30 25 20 15 10 5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Incidence: Age-standardized rates (world) per 100 000 (all ages)

Figure 22.2 Estimated age-standardised rates for cutaneous melanoma of the skin in 1990

Europe, rising incidence is causing further increases in direct health costs, as well as in individual morbidity and mortality. The Incidence continues to rise, particularly in males compared with females.5 Caucasian populations are currently experiencing a reduction in incidence and mortality in some target groups such as young people, with at least one population study showing reduced incidence for BCC but not for SCC. Reduced incidence has also been reported for melanoma in areas where health promotion interventions have encouraged people to reduce their sun exposure.5,6

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