Increase skin cancer mortality

18/09/2013 15:00

The number of people who die from melanoma, a frequent type of skin cancer, has increased significantly in the Netherlands, in particular among over-60s. In the European Union, the Netherlands is among the countries with the highest melanoma mortality.

Increase melanoma mortality

Last year, 477 men and 316 women in the Netherlands died from melanoma of the skin, i.e. 2.0 and 1.6 percent respectively of total cancer mortality. Melanoma of the skin is a relatively rare cause of death, but increasing rapidly: from 470 deaths in 2000 to 793 in 2012. Expressed in ratios, melanoma mortality increased from 3.4 per 100 thousand residents in 2000 to 4.7 per 100 thousand in 2012.       

Higher mortality among men

The risk of dying from melanoma becomes higher as people grow older. If ageing of the Dutch population is taken into account, the increase since 2000 is 38 percent for men and women. Since the 1990s, melanoma mortality has been higher in men than in women.

Melanoma mortality (standardised)

Melanoma mortality (standardised)

Increase in older population

In the 21st century, mortality caused by melanoma of the skin has risen notably among over-60s. As a result, the average age at death has also risen: for men from 59.4 years in 2000 to 65.2 years in 2012 and for women from 65.2 years to 67.2 years.

Melanoma mortality, by age

Melanoma mortality, by age

In top three European Union

On average, 2.2 per 100 thousand residents of the European Union annually died from melanoma of the skin in 2010. Standardised for the European population, the figure for the Netherlands is much more unfavourable (1.7 times as high). Among the 28 countries of the EU, the Netherlands is in second place after Slovenia. 

Mortality caused by melanoma of the skin is notably low in Southern Europe, but high in most countries in Northern Europe (Sweden, Estonia and Denmark). With 5.4 per 100 thousand residents, Norway (not a member of the EU) has the highest mortality rate in Europe. The difference between Northern and Southern Europe is related to the fact that people with a lighter skin are more at risk of developing melanoma than people with a darker skin.

Melanoma mortality in the EU (standardised), 2010

Melanoma mortality in the EU (standardised), 2010

Jan Hoogenboezem and Joop Garssen