Be Healthy! » Skin Health » Melanoma


Early detection saves lives. New Zealand is the Melanoma Headquarters for the World in terms of risk. New Zealand has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world with the average resident having a 50% chance of developing skin cancer.

  • The incidence of Melanoma is doubling every 10 years.
  • The fastest rate of increase is in older men.
  • But even the under 20’s are showing an annual increase of 2.9%

Skin Cancer - The Facts

The statistics on skin cancer are alarming. Melanoma is most common to people of European descent, particularly those with fair skin, but it still occurs in brown skinned people. To add to this there is a higher risk if you have many moles, odd looking moles or have a family history of melanoma. Sunburn in your early life further increases your chances of Melanoma.

Melanoma is the 6th most common cancer in the USA and is the most common fatal cancer in the young.

Melanoma is increasing in incidence

  • 1965 1 in 600 lifetime risk
  • 1985 1 in 150 lifetime risk
  • 2006 1 in 55 lifetime risk for men and 1 in 82 lifetime risk for women

These statistics are from the USA, the NZ and Australian risk profile is higher.

Risk Factors

  • Chronic exposure to Solar UV
  • Incidences of severe and repeated sunburn in childhood
  • 5 or more severe sunburns in your childhood will have doubled your risk of melanoma
  • Living in sun exposed areas ( New Zealand, Hawke’s Bay)
  • Getting older for both Men and Women
  • Family history of Melanoma ( applies to fair and dark skinned people)

Early Detection could save your life

Melanoma and other skin cancers are far more treatable when detected early, so be sure to perform self examination regularly. Protection from over exposure to sun is critical to avoid skin cancer. If you discover changes in your skin pigmentation, non healing scabs or sores, new moles or moles that change appearance, seek medical advice from your own doctor or call Totara Molescan 06 873 0101.

Self Examination – What to look for

  • You should be aware of changes to your moles and seek medical advice if any changes occur.
  • The mole suddenly or continuously gets larger
  • The skin around a mole becomes red or develops coloured blemishes or swellings
  • A mole that was flat or slightly elevated increases in height rapidly
  • A smooth mole develops scaliness, erosion or oozing. Crusting, ulceration or bleeding are signs or more advanced disease.
  • Itching is the most common  early symptom. There may also be feelings of tenderness or pain.