Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and it strikes men much harder than women. Not only do men have a higher risk of melanoma, they’re also more likely to suffer from more aggressive forms of the disease.
Although melanoma is usually curable when caught early, thousands of men die from it every year. What makes men more likely to get melanoma? Here is what all men need to know:
- Researchers believe that there are biological differences in men and women that make men more likely to get melanoma.
- The differences in survival rates of melanoma between men and women suggest behavioral factors are also at play.
- Men can significantly reduce their risk of melanoma by being proactive about taking care of their skin.
There is some evidence that the gender disparity in melanoma incidence is a result of differences in our biology. Researchers aren’t certain, but they have a few theories as to why our biology might contribute to our higher risk of melanoma.
Currently, one of the most plausible theories involves the differences in our sex hormones. There are multiple studies that show a connection between the female sex hormone estrogen and lower incidence of melanoma.
A recent study (see claim: “It seems likely that female melanoma patients…”) suggested that female melanoma patients may have better outcomes because estrogen increases their immune response against deadly melanomas. This theory has been backed by a study which showed that obese men had a better melanoma prognosis (see claim: “Our results suggest that in patients with metastatic melanoma…”) compared to men with a normal BMI because fat tissue produces greater amounts of estrogen.
Lack of Skin Care Knowledge
While most women are taught from an early age to take good care of their skin, men generally aren’t raised to know the importance of proper sun protection and healthy skin care habits. This lack of knowledge regarding sun protection is thought to be a major cause of the higher melanoma rates in men.
Although more men are now realizing the importance of taking better care of their skin, many still lack basic skin care knowledge and sun protection.
To reduce the risk of melanoma in men, it’s vital that men adopt better skin care habits early. This starts with using a men’s daily moisturizer with SPF to protect their face, as well as sunscreen on any exposed areas of the skin.
Less Likely to See a Doctor
One of the reasons why melanoma is more common in males is that men use health care services less frequently than women do. According to one study, (see claim: “The majority of men…") 61 percent of men don’t get regular checkups that could potentially help physicians discover melanomas.
Similarly, men wait too long once they do spot something suspicious because they feel normal. Stage IV melanoma is mostly asymptomatic and can be present in men without them ever realizing it.
In addition to regular checkups, it’s essential that men are seen by a dermatologist regularly. White non-Hispanic males have a higher risk of melanoma and should therefore be seen more often than men of color.
More Time Spent in the Sun Unprotected
Older white men are at an especially high risk of developing melanoma. Researchers believe that this is due to a combination of working outdoors and not understanding the importance of proper sun protection.
In the past, men generally spent more time outdoors compared to women (both for work and for recreational purposes). Additionally, many older men today were raised to believe that a tan was the ultimate sign of health and vitality.
Unfortunately, this increased exposure to UV rays and lack of sun protection is now contributing to the high rates of melanoma in older men. Both tanning and sunburns are signs of damage to the skin cells, as well as mutations to our DNA.
The importance of getting regular skin screenings can’t be stressed enough. In addition to regular skin screenings, be sure to thoroughly check your own moles every couple of months in the mirror.
Reduce Your Risk and Take Better Care of Your Skin
Sun protection and melanoma awareness are critical to reducing the high risk of melanoma in men. Although we can’t go back in time to change our skin care habits, we can start doing something about it today.
With a simple men’s skin care regimen, appropriate sun protection and regular skin screenings, you can significantly reduce the possibility of getting melanoma.