Skin cancers are the most common form of cancers in New Zealand. The mortality (death) rate from skin cancer is among the highest in the world.

Limiting how much ultraviolet radiation (UVR) students get from the sun during school years could reduce the rate of skin cancers in later life. Sunburn, particularly in childhood and adolescence, increases the risk of getting melanoma. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer and is an aggressive type if not identified early. 

Skin cancer statistics

  • Over 350 New Zealanders are dying from skin cancer every year.
  • Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer affecting New Zealanders. There are approximately 67,000 new non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) cases each year. 
  • Of the 3 most common skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma), melanoma is the most serious.
  • NZ has one of the highest melanoma death rates in the world.
  • The most recent statistics are for 2012, showing:
    • 2,324 registered cases of melanoma
    • 354 deaths from melanoma
    • There are approximately 67,000 new non-melanoma skin cancers each year. However, providing an exact figure is differcult as, unlike melanoma, they are not required to be notifed under the Cancer Registry Act 1993. 
  • Skin cancer costs the New Zealand health system about $33 million a year, making skin cancer one of the most expensive cancers for the NZ health system.
  • It has been estimated that, for every death from skin cancer, an average of 17.4 potential years of life are lost.
  • The majority of skin cancers are preventable - it has been estimated that over 90% of melanomas in Australasia are caused by sunlight exposure.
  • Sunburn before the age of 20 years is a particularly strong risk factor for melanoma.

10 Incredible Facts about Skin for the SunSmart Schools curriculum resources 

For more statistical information go to the Cancer Society website