Michael’s story is at a quite young age and in another country but the growth of skin cancer is an issue for men of all ages, across the globe.
2018 research from the UK’s National Cancer Research Institute highlights the increasing gap. Men in the UK are over 60% more likely than women to die from skin cancer, male skin cancer mortality rate has increased by 70% in 30 years.
NHS data similarly shows that skin cancer in men is growing at twice the rate for women. Men are also more likely to have multiple skin cancer lesions, or to be diagnosed at a later, harder to treat stage.
In an era where skin cancer treatment has progressed, these figures may seem surprising. Although research continues on biological differences, the main reasons are behavioural.
Reversing The Tide
If there was one message we could see posted in large letters across the nation, that would be not to ignore symptoms. Survival rates for melanoma with early treatment are beyond 95%, by stage 4 that falls below 20%.
Should you have a mole, or lesion which suddenly appears, looks odd, or changes behaviour, see a specialist. Making sure the change is spotted is equally important.
Professional skin cancer screening is a shrewd investment, self checks in between visits make sense. As men often develop skin cancer in hard to see places, such as the back, asking a partner, or friend to help with checks is useful.
A different approach throughout life can also reduce risk. Using sunscreen regularly cuts skin cancer liability in half, wearing clothing which protects matters.
Men are more likely to take of their shirt in the sun than women, or not wear a hat, or be outdoors for longer, perhaps for work. They are also less likely to visit a doctor for any reason and raise skin issues whilst there.
Women may have other small advantages, long hair can protect, a regular cosmetic routine makes including sunscreen natural, they tend to be more concerned about the ageing effect of the sun’s rays, the prime cause of skin cancer.
This still shouldn’t prevent both sexes protecting themselves throughout life, to negate, or reduce the likelihood of needing skin cancer treatment.
Treatment For Men
Whilst prevention is far better than cure, this is one aspect where men and women are equal. Typical parts of the body affected can be different but diagnosis and skin cancer treatment are essentially the same.
Recent technological advances have made a difference, not least to monitoring and diagnosis. Digital body imagery, or virtual biopsies using confocal microscopy assist in accuracy and treatment planning.
There can be situations where treatments ranging from creams, to light therapy, to immunotherapy, or chemotherapy will apply. The primary treatment for most skin cancers is however surgical removal.
Techniques have improved to ensire better cure rates and minimise downtime, to prevent cosmetic damage, such as Mohs surgery. The majority of skin cancer surgery is carried out under local anaesthetic.
Centres such as our specialist clinics in London are there to assist. We believe there is nothing unmanful about seeking advice, identifying and solving a problem as early as possible is the stronger decision.