New Zealand's Environment Reporting Series: The Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand
New Zealand and Australia have the world’s highest rates of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Melanoma is mainly caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, usually from the sun. New Zealand has naturally high UV levels, especially during summer. The risk of developing melanoma is affected by factors such as skin colour and type, family history, and the amount of sun exposure. Melanoma can affect people at any age, but the chance of developing a melanoma increases with age. We report on age-standardised rates of melanoma to account for the increasing proportion of older people in our population. Our data on melanoma registrations come from the New Zealand Cancer Registry and the Ministry of Health's Mortality Collection. The passing of the Cancer Registry Act 1993 and Cancer Registry Regulations 1994 led to significant improvements in data quality and coverage (Ministry of Health, 2013). A sharp increase in registrations after 1993 is likely to have been related to these legislative and regulatory changes; for this reason we have only analysed data from 1996. 2014–15 data are provisional and subject to change. More information on this dataset and how it relates to our environmental reporting indicators and topics can be found in the attached data quality pdf.