The Grapevine

Skin Cancer Deaths Among Men Are On The Rise: Study

While the number of women dying from melanoma has seen a steady decline or stabilization in most countries. However, the same cannot be said for men as revealed in the latest research presented at the 2018 NCRI Cancer Conference in the United Kingdom. 

Melanoma, regarded as the most serious kind of skin cancer, was estimated to cause more than 9,000 deaths per year in the United States. According to estimates by the Skin Foundation, nearly 6,000 of those deaths will be men.

As we know, the risk of melanoma increases when a person is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or from tanning facilities. This especially applies to fair-skinned individuals and other sun-sensitive skin types.

"Despite public health efforts to promote awareness of melanoma and encourage sun-smart behaviors, melanoma incidence has been increasing in recent decades," said Dr. Dorothy Yang, a doctor at the Royal Free London hospital in London.

To look at how trends have changed over time, the researchers examined melanoma death rates from several countries between 1985 and 2015. They adopted a focus on gender difference while accounting for other factors such as age.

Findings showed male death rates were higher than female death rates in all the regions included in the research. Skin cancer death rates for men had increased by at least 50 percent in eight countries.

In Ireland and Croatia, the rates seemed to have doubled over the span of three decades. In Australia, nearly six in every 100,000 men died from melanoma from 2013 to 2015.

While the United States was not included in this particular study, the Centers for Disease Control notes a 25 percent rise in male melanoma death rates. The next step is to conduct more research and find out why this is happening. As of now, researchers suspect that men are simply not adequately protecting themselves from the sun.

"There is evidence that suggests men are less likely to protect themselves from the sun or engage with melanoma awareness and prevention campaigns," Dr. Yang explained. "There is also ongoing work looking for any biological factors underlying the difference in mortality rates between men and women."

Applying sunscreen is a piece of advice that is repeated often for a reason. Not only is it important to use before heading outdoors, but even the method of application makes a difference in how protected you are.

As mentioned earlier, fair-skinned individuals may need to take extra precautions due to their increased susceptibility to UV damage. In a study published earlier this year, experts recommended wearing hats, wearing protective clothing, and seeking sources of shade as additional measures to consider.