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Although melanoma is far less common skin cancer than squamous or basal cell carcinoma, it is much more likely to spread to other parts of the body. Only 1 percent of skin cancers are melanomas; however, melanoma is responsible for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.1
For 2018, the American Cancer Society estimates that the U.S. will see:1

  • About 91,270 new melanomas diagnosed (approximately 55,150 in men and 36,120 in women).
  • About 9,320 people die of melanoma (approximately 5,990 men and 3,330 women).

As with squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, high exposure to ultraviolet radiation is a leading risk factor for melanoma. Additional risk factors for melanoma include a personal or family history of melanoma; atypical, large, numerous moles (>50); sun sensitivity; environmental exposures; and immunosuppression.1,2

Advances in immunotherapy and targeted therapies are offering new treatment options for advanced melanoma. Since 2011, four new immunotherapy agents have received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for mono- and/or combination therapy in patients with melanoma, including a cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) checkpoint inhibitor (intravenous ipilimumab), programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) checkpoint inhibitors (intravenous pembrolizumab and nivolumab), and an oncolytic virus therapy (intralesional talimogene laherparepvec [T-VEC]).3

1 American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Skin Cancer.
2. PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Melanoma Treatment. 2017. Last accessed January 26, 2018.
3. National Cancer Institute. Drugs approved for melanoma. 2018. Last accessed January 26, 2018.

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