Two Reasons More Men Die from Skin Cancer

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • About twice as many men as women will die from melanoma this year. Before the age of 49, more women than men are diagnosed with melanoma, however, after age 50, this reverses and significantly more men develop melanoma. The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that 6,470 men and 3,240 women will die from melanoma in 2014. [1]

    Reason #1: Men Don’t Use Sunscreen As Often as Women

    Exposure to the sun’s UV rays - both UVA and UVB - are known to cause skin cancer. About 65 percent of all melanomas are attributed to sun exposure. Protecting your skin from the sun’s rays helps prevent skin cancer. That means wearing sunscreen everyday and reapplying it every few hours, wearing protective clothing and avoiding spending long periods of time in the sun between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Men are not as vigilant, or simply ignore, using sunscreen.

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    Advertisements and educational information about the importance of sunscreen has been aimed more at women than at men. Since the rate of melanoma in women is decreasing, it seems they listened. Men are less likely to use sunscreen.

    Men spend more time in the sun than women. They golf, fish, hike, garden. All activities that require spending hours outside. They are more likely than women to have jobs that require spending time outdoors, such as construction jobs. According to the National Sun Protection Advisory Council, men are outdoors 10 hours more than women each week.

    Reason #2: Men Don’t Go to the Doctor as Often as Women

    Too often, men ignore signs of skin cancer. They don’t see visiting a doctor or dermatologist as a priority in their life and will frequently only go once their wife has insisted, even if they have a lesion or other suspicious signs of skin cancer. They only rarely will do skin self-checks.

    Skin cancer is treatable when detected and treated early. But that means doing self-checks on a regular basis, seeing a dermatologist on an annual basis and more often if there are suspicious moles or ones that change shape or color. Sores or lesions that don’t heal should be seen by a doctor as well. Without treatment, skin cancer can spread to the lymph nodes and beyond, making it more difficult to treat and deadly.

    Education is the Key

    The good news is that men aren’t more inherently susceptible to skin cancer. Educational campaigns geared toward women have worked. Women use sunscreen more often than in the past. They make sure their children have sunscreen. They know that sunscreen helps protect from cancer as well as premature aging of the skin. But many educational program, and even commercials and advertisements, are still geared toward women. According to Michael Steppie, M.D., the reason men develop skin cancer more often is they are “less informed.” Men who receive information and free skin screenings are more apt to use sunscreen, visit a doctor and perform self skin-checks.


    “Skin Cancer and the Gender Gap,” 2012, Michael Steppie, M.D., The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal

  • [1] “Skin Cancer Facts,” Updated 2014, Oct. 16, Staff Writer, Skin Cancer

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Published On: November 05, 2014