Supporting Melanoma Month – understanding routes to diagnosis through analysis of Health Data

By Luke Sisley, Senior Business Intelligence Analyst, CSL

May is international Melanoma Awareness Month. Given that findings suggest that 90% of Melanomas are preventable, awareness is seen as key to tackling occurrences, making the month an important feature of the Cancer Awareness calendar.

To highlight importance of this month and to raise our own awareness of melanoma, we decided to conduct a micro analysis on the diagnosis routes for melanomas.

We will be looking at findings on diagnosis routes for melanoma, with data pulled from some the recently released by the NHS’s “Get Data Out” cancer programme. This source covers diagnosis data from 2013 to 2018, and incidence data up to 2019. Please see the documentation available on the site for further information on the data.

The Two Week Wait (or TWW) diagnostic route for cancer was introduced in 2000 as a way of fast-tracking access to specialists. As we can see below, there is a long-term trend in increasing share of melanoma diagnoses coming from TWW specialist referrals.

Diagnosis Routes | Percentage of Diagnoses by Year

In comparison to total Skin Tumours, melanoma diagnoses are more likely to come through the TWW route.

TWW Route | Percentage of Diagnoses via Route | Melanoma vs Total Skin Tumours

Let’s take a look at diagnoses by stage, including Stage 0 (in situ Melanoma, where cancer cells are present in the top layer of the skin). Comparative data by stage shows distinct differences in diagnosis routes for melanoma. Stage 0 shows a significantly higher proportion of GP referral diagnoses compared to other stages. At Stages 1-2 we see an increase in the share of diagnoses via TWW, which remains significant at stages 3-4.

Melanoma by Stage | Percentage of Diagnoses via Route | 2013 - 2018

Overall, diagnoses rates by stage are stable over our data scope with stage 1 being the most common diagnosis stage, although there appears to be a small but consistent increase in long-term stage 0 diagnoses.

Melanoma by Stage | Percentage of Diagnoses by Stage | 2013 – 2108

Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this quick dive into diagnosis routes for cancer interesting. If you are interested in further raising your awareness of melanoma, I would encourage you to see the sources below for further information.

NHS Melanoma page

Melanoma UK

Macmillan Melanoma info page

Cancer Research UK – What is Melanoma?

For more information on other lesser-known sources of data, take a look at our white paper: Secret Datasets to Discover. Or contact us via or call 01483 528302 if you would like to discuss any data analysis requirements. 

This work uses data that has been provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support. The data is collated, maintained and quality assured by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, which is part of NHS Digital (NHSD). The data is taken from the Get Data Out tables.


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