Long-term deaths from melanoma according to tumour thickness at diagnosis

What is known?

Queensland has the highest incidence rate of melanoma in the world. The risk of a patient dying from their melanoma increases with increasing tumour thickness at diagnosis.

What is new?

In a population-based study of 44,531 people diagnosed with a single invasive melanoma, the case fatality for thin (<1.0 mm) melanoma was higher during 5-20 years follow-up than for less than 5 years follow-up. For thick melanomas (≥ 4mm) the opposite was true – the case fatality was higher soon after diagnosis.

For thin melanomas, the proportion of melanoma patients who died within five years of their diagnosis has decreased over time. However, there was no decrease for those diagnosed with thick melanomas.

What does this mean?

The time between diagnosis and death for fatal melanomas varies markedly according to how thick the melanoma is at diagnosis.

Improved understanding of the patient factors and characteristics of melanomas, in addition to tumour thickness (that increase the likelihood of progression) is needed to guide clinical diagnosis, communication with patients, and ongoing surveillance pathways of patients with potentially fatal lesions.

Contact: Peter Baade

Reference: Baade PD, Whiteman DC, Janda M, Cust AE, Neale RE, Smithers BM, Green AC, Khosrotehrani K, Mar V, Soyer HP, Aitken JF. Long-term deaths from melanoma according to tumor thickness at diagnosis. International Journal of Cancer. 2020. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32930.

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