Melanoma of skin is the 17th most common cancer worldwide.
There are two main types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma. The most common non-melanoma tumours are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Skin cancer represents a particular challenge for estimating incidence for several reasons. There are multiple sub-types of skin cancer, which can present problems when collating data. For example, non-melanoma skin cancer is often not tracked by cancer registries, or registrations of this cancer are often incomplete because most cases are successfully treated via surgery or ablation. Due to these factors, it is likely that the reported global incidence of skin cancer is an underestimate.
Melanoma of skin is the 17th most common cancer worldwide. It is the 13th most common cancer in men and the 15th most common cancer in women.
There were more than 150,000 new cases of melanoma of skin in 2020.
Non-melanoma skin cancer is often excluded from the reporting of cancer statistics. It is not reported in global total cancer cases. This is because it is very common, often under-diagnosed, and commonly treated within primary care and therefore likely to be under-reported in national cancer registry data.
The 10 countries with the highest rates of both types of skin cancer and the highest number of deaths from both types of skin cancer in 2020 are shown in the tables below.
ASR = age-standardised rates. These are a summary measure of the rate of disease that a population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardisation is necessary when comparing populations that differ with respect to age because age has a powerful influence on the risk of dying from cancer.
The following 3 tables show total global melanoma skin cancer incidence and rates in 2020, followed by the figures for men and women. Australia had the highest overall rate of melanoma of skin in 2020, followed by New Zealand.
The following 3 tables show total global non-melanoma skin cancer incidence and rates in 2020, followed by the figures for men and women. Australia had the highest overall rate of non-melanoma skin cancer in 2020, followed by New Zealand.
The following 3 tables show total global melanoma skin cancer mortality in 2020, followed by the figures for men and women. New Zealand had the highest rate of melanoma skin cancer mortality in 2020, followed by Norway.
The following 3 tables show total global non-melanoma skin cancer mortality in 2020, followed by the figures for men and women. Papua New Guinea had the highest rate of non-melanoma skin cancer mortality in 2020, followed by Namibia.
|1||Papua New Guinea||270||5.1|
|1||Papua New Guinea||150||6.1|
|1||Papua New Guinea||120||4.3|
Over-exposure to certain types of light, such as ultra-violet rays from the sun or tanning devices, is the principal cause of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
There is evidence that the following are also associated with an increased risk of skin cancer: radiation, medicines used to suppress the immune system after organ transplantation, infection with human papilloma virus, exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, genetics and family history, and skin pigmentation.
There is also strong evidence that:
There is some evidence that:
> Read more about what can cause and what can protect against skin cancer
The data on this page comes from the Global Cancer Observatory, owned by the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer, and is used with permission. The cancer incidence figures and ASRs were compiled using the data available here (last accessed 23 March 2022). For queries about our cancer statistics please email the Research Interpretation team: firstname.lastname@example.org.