Significant improvement in melanoma survival over the last decade: A Hungarian nationwide study between 2011 and 2019

Gabriella Liszkay, Angela Benedek, Csaba Polgár, Judit Oláh, Péter Holló, Gabriella Emri, András Csejtei, István Kenessey, Zoltán Polányi, Kata Knollmajer, Máté Várnai, Zoltán Vokó, Balázs Nagy, György Rokszin, Ibolya Fábián, Zsófia Barcza, Rolland Gyulai and Zoltan Kiss

Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology

Background: Recent real-world studies have reported significant improvements in the survival of malignant melanoma in the past few years, mainly as a result of modern therapies. However, long-term survival data from Central Eastern European countries such as Hungary are currently lacking.

Methods: This nationwide, retrospective study examined melanoma survival in Hungary between 2011–2019 using the databases of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and Central Statistical Office (CSO) of Hungary. Crude overall survival and age-standardized 5-year net survival as well as the association between age, sex and survival were calculated.

Results: Between 2011 and 2019, 22,948 newly diagnosed malignant melanoma cases were recorded in the NHIF database (47.89% male, mean age: 60.75 years (SD: ±16.39)). Five-year overall survival was 75.40% (women: 80.78%; men: 69.52%). Patients diagnosed between 2017–2019 had a 20% lower risk of mortality compared to patients diagnosed between 2011–2012 (HR 0.80, 95% CI 0.73–0.89; p < 0.0001). Age-standardized 5-year net survival rates in 2011–2014 and 2015–2019 were 90.6% and 95.8%, respectively (women: 93.1% and 98.4%, men: 87.8% and 92.7%, respectively). The highest age-standardized 5-year net survival rates were found in the 0–39 age cohort (94.6% in the 2015–2019 period).

Conclusion: Hungary has similar melanoma survival rates to Western European countries. Based on net survival, the risk of dying of melanoma within 5 years was cut by more than half (55%) during the study period, which coincides with the successful implementation of awareness campaigns and the wide availability of modern therapies.