Mortality from skin melanoma in Italy and Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, 1970-1989

S. Franceschi, E. Bidoli, S. Prati, S. Fascioli, C. La Vecchia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and background: Substantial upward trends for skin cancer mortality have been observed in most European countries in the last two decades. The distinction, however, between cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) and non-melanomatous skin cancers on the basis of death certification is unreliable. Methods: In order to assess the trends of CMM, analysis of the specific code for CMM (International Classification of Disease VIII and IX:172) was coupled with analysis of total skin cancer mortality rates, standardized on the 1981 Italian Census population, at all ages and in selected age groups (15-44, 45-64 and 65-84 years). The analyses were carried out for the whole of Italy and for Friuli-Venezia Giulia (FVG), a region in North-East Italy with a high proportion of fair-complexioned individuals, elevated frequency of sunbathing, and especially good diagnostic standards. Results: In 1985-89 skin cancer mortality rates in men at all ages, as compared to 1970-74, were 33% higher in Italy and 46% higher in FVG. In women, there was a rise of 22% in Italy and 94% in FVG. More marked upward trends were observed in young and middle aged adults, especially among women in FVG (over 300% increase). In absolute terms, approximately 3000 more Italians died from skin cancers in 1985-89 as compared to 1970-74, about half of them prematurely (i.e., <65 years). CMM was mentioned in death certifications for skin cancer increasingly often in all age groups, particularly in FVG. Conclusions: The analysis of mortality trends from skin cancer is consistent with a substantial rise of CMM-related deaths. The sensitivity of death certification with respect to CMM diagnosis is also increasing, especially in FVG. A public health strategy with the aim of reducing intermittent intense exposure to ultraviolet light, especially in children, is urgent in Italy as CMM represents one of the few causes of premature death with unfavorable trends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-256
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • melanoma
  • mortality
  • skin cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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