New research shows that men are 70 percent more likely than women to die from malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.
The Cancer Research UK studied data from 2011 and found that although similar numbers of women and men were diagnosed with melanoma, 3.4 men per 100,000 die from the disease compared with two per 100,000 women.
Further analysis shows that, of the 6,200 men who develop melanoma each year, 1,300 die from it, while only 900 women out of 6,600 who develop the disease die.
This gap is predicted to widen even more in the future, since death rates from malignant melanoma are increasing in men, but remaining stable in women.
"Research has suggested the difference between the sexes could be in part because men are more likely to be diagnosed when melanoma is at a more advanced stage,” said Professor Julia Newton-Bishop, Cancer Research UK dermatologist from the University of Leeds. “But there also seem to be strong biological reasons behind the differences, and we're working on research to better understand why men and women's bodies deal with their melanomas in different ways.”
"We also know that men and women tend to develop melanoma in different places – more often on the back and chest for men and on the arms and legs for women. If melanoma does develop on your back then it may be more difficult to spot – asking your partner to check your back is a good idea," said Newton-Bishop.
According to Cancer Research UK, death rates for men with melanoma have increased by 185 percent since the early 1970s. On the other hand, death rates for women have only increased 55 percent.
“One of the reasons for the difference [between men and women] may be attitudes towards seeing a doctor. [Women] tend to be reluctant to 'waste' the doctor's time - men are especially likely to put it off,” said Sara Hion, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK.”
“If something goes wrong with the car then you sort it out straight away. The same should go for you - if you, or your partner, notice any unusual or persistent changes then see your GP. The key thing is to get to know your skin and what's normal for you so you're more likely to notice something out of the ordinary,” said Hion.
Key risk factors for melanoma include excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning bed, as well as having fair skin, many moles or unusual moles, and a family or personal history of the disease.
It is essential for people to protect their skin from the sun. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Note that even products labeled “waterproof” or “sweatproof” only protect you for 40 minutes while swimming or sweating. Greenville Dermatology’s retail store carries a wide selection of broad-spectrum sunscreens that are ideal for everyday use. You should also avoid tanning beds, which have been proven to contribute to the development of skin cancer.
“Research has shown that using sunbeds for the first time before 35 can increase your risk of malignant melanoma by nearly 60 percent,” said Hion.
Early detection of melanoma plus regular skin exams is vital for beating the disease. When detected in its earliest stages, melanoma is 99 percent curable. Call Greenville Dermatology today at (864) 242-5872 to make an appointment with a dermatologist.