Thin melanomas kill more people

This may come as a surprise, given the high rates of mortality associated with thick [deeper] melanomas (measuring more than 4mm).

However, in terms of total numbers of deaths, thin [superficial] melanomas (less than or equal to 1mm) exact a higher toll, the research shows.

"We found the huge increases in the numbers of thin melanomas being detected means that, overall, they account for more melanoma deaths than thick tumours," said lead researcher Professor David Whiteman, head of the Cancer Control Group at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane.

"This research highlights the message that all melanomas are potentially dangerous."

While thin melanomas generally have a good survival rate – approaching 96% at 20 years – their incidence rates have jumped up over the last two decades.

In 1990–94, thin melanomas accounted for 14% of all melanoma deaths, but in 2005–09, the proportion had