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Malignant melanoma

Malignant melanoma most often occurs in the skin, but can also occur in mucous membranes (nose, sinuses, mouth, genitals, urinary tract, bowel and esophagus), in eyes and lymph nodes.

In men, the most common localization of melanoma  is the upper body and head/neck. Females previously had the highest incidence of melanoma on the extremities, but after around year 2000 the upper body is the most frequent localization also with them .

Malignant melanoma in the mucous membranes occurs primarily in the head/neck region. The most common localization is the nasal cavity.

Uveal malignant melanoma is the most common primary malignant tumor in the eye.

Malingnant melanoma - Essential facts


Compared to other cancers, malignant melanoma is fairly common and represents 4.5% of all new cancer cases in the United States. Approximately 2.1% of men and women will be diagnosed with malignant melanoma at some point during their lifetime.

Malignant melanoma is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 55-64. It is more common in men than women and among individuals of fair complexion and those who have been exposed to natural or artificial sunlight (such as tanning beds) over long periods of time. There are more new cases among whites than any other racial/ethnic group. In 2017, it is estimated to be 87,110 new cases of malignant melanoma in the United States (1).


Age-specific incidence of skin melanoma, 2010–2014.

Source: National Cancer Institute



Incidence of skin melanoma, 1975–2014.

Source: National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, USA

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