Facts and risk factors


New Zealand’s melanoma incidence rate is the world’s highest.

Melanoma Facts

  • More than 6,000 melanomas are diagnosed in New Zealand every year
  • Melanoma accounts for nearly 80% of all skin cancer deaths
  • Almost 300 Kiwis die of melanoma every year
  • Around 70% of melanoma cases occur in people aged 50 years and older
  • Darker-skinned people may have a lower chance of getting melanoma, but they often have thicker, more serious melanomas
  • Melanoma rarely occurs in children
  • Men are twice as likely than women to die from melanoma
    Woman with mole on back

    Risk Factors

    Anyone in New Zealand can develop skin cancer but your risk is increased if you have:

    • Previous history of skin cancer, especially melanoma
    • Fair skin that burns easily
    • Red, blonde or fair hair
    • Skin damage due to sunburn
    • Sunbed use (more than 10 sessions)
    • Many moles or large moles (50+)
    • High doses of sun exposure e.g. during a holiday and recreational activity with continuous sun exposure
    • Being over 50 years old
    • Immuno-suppression and use of certain medication

    Melanoma Risk Assessment Tool

    It is not possible for individuals to identify their personal risk of melanoma by going through a checklist of risk factors.

    If you would like to identify your risk, ask your primary care practitioner to use this clinical melanoma risk predictor tool.  It was designed for the Australian population but guidelines suggest New Zealanders should select Tasmania as place of residence, to receive the most accurate assessment.

    Melanoma Risk Assessment Tool

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      My family is incredibly important to me. Amelia and I grew up together and were very close. She died when she was just 12 years old. I was 11 when we lost her; my family is so close and tight knit – losing her was just devastating.”

      Laura McGoldrick