Treatment of Melanoma

Following a melanoma diagnosis, there will be many treatment options available to you. This section is intended to provide you with all the necessary information in order for you to make the most informed choice possible.



The prognosis or outlook for a person diagnosed with melanoma depends on the stage of the cancer and the individual’s own personal and genetic history. Survival rates are often used as a standard metric by physicians in discussing a person’s prognosis and treatment options. Rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who have had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen in any person’s case [1]. As other factors can affect survival of a patient, including [2]:

  • As older people in general have shorter survival times, the biggest drop in melanoma survival rate occurs after age 70
  • Even if melanoma is uncommon in darker and black skinned individuals—survival times tend to be shorter than when it occurs in white people
  • People with melanoma who have weakened immune systems, those who have had organ transplants or who are infected with HIV, are at greater risk of dying of melanoma

Below are the survival statistics for people with melanoma. We realize some people may want to know the survival statistics to compare to people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you don’t want to know them, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

According to the 2015 Canadian Cancer Statistics, the five-year relative survival ratio (RSR) (estimates for 2006-2008) was 85% for males and 92% for females. Overall, the age-standardized five-year RSR for melanoma has increased from 84.3% from 1993-94 to 88.5% from 2006 to 2008. Increases tended to be higher in older age groups, whereas similar improvements occurred in both men and women [4].

Data on stage distribution of melanoma cases is not currently reported at the national level. Therefore, analyses of survival by stage are not currently available. However, data from the US Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program for 2002 to 2008 indicate that the five-year RSR for melanoma improves substantially when diagnosed at an earlier stage [5].

This program reported the following RSRs by stage: localized stage was 98.2%; regional stage was 62.4%; distant stage was 15.1%; and unknown stage was 75.8%. Other research has suggested that survival differs by anatomic site, whereby melanomas of the scalp and neck regions have a poorer prognosis than other body sites [6].



[1] “Melanoma Statistics and Outlook.” Cancer Research UK. Cancer Research UK, 2015. Web. 15 June 2015.
[2] ibid.
[3] Canadian Cancer Society. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014. Rep. no. 0835-2976. Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics, May 2014. Web. 15 June 2015.
[4] ibid.
[5] ibid.
[6] ibid.


Treatment Options
Side-Effects of Treatment
Palliative Care