296 people died from melanoma in 2018
In 2018, 296 people died from melanoma in New Zealand. This is a 22% decline since 2015 (378 deaths). Age-standardised mortality rates have also decreased a statistically significant amount between 2015 (3.3 per 100,000) and 2018 (4.9 per 100,000).
The decrease in melanoma deaths from 2015 to 2018 may be linked to the availability of two new treatments for advanced melanoma - Opdivo and Keytruda. These treatments began receiving public funding by Pharmac in July 2016 and September 2016 respectively. The decrease in melanoma deaths is likely due to these new treatments, as (i) it is in line with what would be expected from the addition of these PD-L1 treatments, based on clinical studies, and (ii) there are no other major factors that explain this large decrease .
There were 2,727 melanoma registrations in 2019
In 2019, there were 2,727 melanoma registrations in New Zealand. The melanoma registration rate has always been higher for males than females over the past 19 years.
Other characteristics of people affected by melanoma
Mortality data is commonly received one year later than registration data for melanoma skin cancer. The following information reports on 2018 patterns for mortality and 2019 patterns for registrations.
1. Differences by age and sex:
In 2019, melanoma registration rates increased with age, with males aged 85+ years having the highest rate, 479.3 per 100,000, while females aged 75+ years also had high rates, 186.8 per 100,000.
In 2017–18, melanoma mortality also increased with age, with the 85+ years age group having the highest rates for both males (134.5 deaths per 100,000) and females (66.6 deaths per 100,000).
2. Differences by ethnic group:
In 2010–19, melanoma registration rates in the European/Other ethnic group (46.1 per 100,000) were over five times greater than the next most affected ethnic group, Māori (8.7 per 100,000). However, the proportion of melanomas with a thickness larger than 2mm, was greater in Māori compared to non-Māori.
In 2009–18, mortality rates in the European/Other ethnic group (5.5 per 100,000) were almost five times greater than Māori (1.2 per 100,000). Research has shown that Māori were 2.6 times more likely to die than non-Māori after being diagnosed with melanoma .
3. Differences by socioeconomic deprivation:
In 2019, melanoma registration rates in the most deprived areas (NZDep2013 quintile 5) were almost half that of the least deprived areas (quintile 1). This trend has been consistent since 2001.
This same trend was not seen in melanoma mortality rates, with rates for the most deprived areas (3.3 per 100,000) being similar to the least deprived areas (3.9 per 100,000).
4. Differences between districts (formerly district health boards):
In 2019, melanoma registration rates were high in the Taranaki District (69.3 per 100,000), with roughly double the national rate (35.5 per 100,000).
In 2014–18, the Taranaki District had the same mortality rate as the national rate (4.2 per 100,000). High rates were recorded in Hawke's Bay District (6.0 per 100,000) and Whanganui District (6.2 per 100,000).
For more information and interactive figures relating to this data, view the factsheets at the top of the page or:
- Click here to view the melanoma registration factsheet.
- Click here to view the melanoma mortality interactive factsheet.
Information about the data
Melanoma cancer registrations and deaths
Source: Ministry of Health – New Zealand Cancer Registry, New Zealand Mortality Collection.
Definition: Melanoma is defined as melanoma of the skin registrations (ICD-10 C43) in the New Zealand Cancer Registry. Rates are per 100,000 people, and have been age-standardised to the WHO world standard population.
Global melanoma statistics
Source: Global Cancer Observatory, 2018 
1.Cancer Control Agency. 2021. Cancer Types: Melanoma Cancer. Accessed 03/05/2021.
2. Mason K, Kelly L, Jackson C, Read D, Borman B. 2022. Did new treatments contribute to a decrease in melanoma deaths?. New Zealand Medical Journal: 135(1558), 90-95. URL: https://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal-articles/did-new-treatments-contribute-to-a-decrease-in-melanoma-deaths.
3. Te Aho o Te Kahu. 2021. He Pūrongo Mate Pukupuku o Aotearoa 2020, The State of Cancer in New Zealand 2020. URL: https://teaho.govt.nz/reports/cancer-state (accessed 27 September 2021).