Melanoma

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Survival statistics for melanoma skin cancer

Survival statistics for melanoma skin cancer are general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for melanoma skin cancer and what they mean to you.

Net survival

Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer.

In Canada, the 5-year net survival for melanoma skin cancer is 88%. This means that, on average, about 88% of people diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer will survive for at least 5 years.

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of melanoma skin cancer.

Generally, the earlier melanoma skin cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

Most melanoma skin cancers are found at an early stage.

Superficial spreading melanoma skin cancer is the most common type of melanoma. It tends to be a thin tumour that stays on the surface of the skin and is often easy to treat.

Melanoma skin cancer often responds well to cancer treatment.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of non-melanoma skin cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources. It includes relative survival statistics from other countries that are likely to have similar outcomes as in Canada. Relative survival looks at how likely people with cancer are to survive after their diagnosis compared to people in the general population who do not have cancer, but who share similar characteristics (such as age and sex).

Melanoma skin cancer survival
Stage5-year relative survival

cancer is only in the skin (local or early stage)

98%

cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes (regional or locoregional)

62%

cancer has spread to other parts of the body (distant or metastatic)

18%

Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • the type of cancer
  • where the cancer started on the skin
  • the stage, including how thick the cancer is and if there is broken skin with an open wound (ulceration)
  • the treatments chosen
  • how the cancer responds to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

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