Malignant melanoma is a potentially fatal form of skin cancer which predominantly occurs in white-skinned people. Over the last 30 years, the incidence of melanoma has risen faster than any of the current top 10 cancers and is predicted to continue to increase. The increase in incidence may be due to increased surveillance and early detection but the rising incidence is considered to be related to increased exposure to ultraviolet light in particular intermitten sunburn from holidays. In 2011, 13,300 cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the UK, equating to 37 people per day.1
Unlike other skin cancers, melanoma incidence does not rise with increasing age; cases are seen in all age groups. It is the most common cancer in people aged 15 to 34 years.1 Fortunately, most cases are diagnosed early. Eighty per cent of cases can be cured by surgical removal.2 In the remainder of cases the primary melanoma on the skin will spread (metastise) to other parts of the body (secondaries/metastases.
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