Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, but despite all the warnings, a lot of people still do not protect themselves against the sun the way they should. Here is some of the latest research on risk factors, diagnosis, survivors and gender differences.
How does melanoma affect men?
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that young men are more likely to die from melanoma than young women, regardless of severity. Researchers looked at 26,000 cases of young, white men and women over 20 years, and determined that men accounted for 40 percent of melanoma cases, but 64 percent of the deaths. After adjustments for tumor type, thickness and location, the research showed that men were 55 percent more likely to die from melanoma. In addition, with patients who had more than one type of cancer, men were twice as likely to die.
Researchers say fundamental biological factors cause the disparity, rather than behavior differences. Some theories on the biological differences between men and women involve the immune system, sex hormones, genetic factors and the way the body metabolizes vitamin D.
In addition, other research has shown that skin cancer is the kind of cancer men are most likely to face. Also, men over 50 are twice as likely to develop skin cancer as women. In that case, behavioral differences are thought to be the reason for this risk, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Research has found that while men tend to spend more time in the sun than women, they are less likely to use sunscreen or use proper sunscreen techniques. One study, from the National Sun Protection Advisory Council, found that men spend 35 hours a week in the sun, and only 25 percent make an effort to stay out of the sun. Women spend 10 fewer hours a week n the sun and 39 percent make an effort to stay out of the sun. Many times men will work outdoors or play sports outside without thinking about sun protection, and if they do, they aren’t applying it correctly or reapplying often enough.
The second problem is that men are more likely to develop skin cancer on their ears and scalp, because they typically have less hair in these areas to protect from the sun. The back, chest and shoulders are also at-risk areas for skin cancer on men.
Third, men are less likely to go to the doctor for routine skin cancer screenings, which could help catch skin cancers early.
Researchers say prevention, early detection and prompt treatment are all essential for overcoming melanoma.
[SLIDESHOW: 7 Tips to Prevent Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers]
How do melanoma survivors fare?
A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found that melanoma recurrence is more common 10 years or more after successful treatment than previously believed, but, these patients tend to live longer after the recurrence than patients whose melanoma returns in the first three years.