Older Men at Highest Risk for Melanoma Mortality

Men are more likely to die from melanoma than women.

It’s a harsh statement, but it’s true. As a dermatologist, I can attest to the fact that the majority of the men I see in my office for melanoma screening say they only came because ‘my wife sent me.’ Now, while I’m glad someone is pushing them to get checked out… It’s dangerous to have a dismissive attitude to begin with.

While there are have been no trials done to demonstrate a benefit to screening for melanoma, there is evidence to support screening. In Germany, for instance, one-fifth of the population in the state of Schleswig-Holstein participated in an 8-hour skin cancer training program. After 5 years, the melanoma mortality in that state was reduced by nearly 50%. This means there was potentially a high correlation between screening and melanoma mortality rates, and the benefits of this far outweigh the risks.

Melanoma mortality is the highest and increasing among older men, and screening rates are the highest among women and younger patients. Personally, I feel that perhaps older men do not fully understand that they are at a higher risk or high mortality rate associated with melanoma. I’ve seen this in some male patients who know they have moles, but often find themselves in denial that it could be melanoma.

The bottom line is this: men, take your skin seriously and come in for regular check ups. Ladies, encourage the men in your life to be aware of the risks facing them. Melanoma is no joke and the earlier it can be identified, the better. Whether it’s your loved ones, husbands, fathers or grandfathers, encourage them to get screened - it could save their life.

Source: Laura Ferris, MD, PhD

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