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 grown by 70% in 30 years.
NHS data similarly shows that skin cancer in men is increasing 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 but to a degree reflect genetic differences. Research in 2020 by McGill University focused on the advantage women hold in having two X chromosomes, rather than one.
The additional facility acts in the way a computer back up might, should one copy become mutated. A feasible explanation and further studies continue on biological differences but the core reasons are behavioural.
When men go for a run, or take part in any outdooor sport, they rarely use sunscreen. Applying sunscreen at any time is not part of their norm, whereas woman use moisturiser, or other creams, so this feels more logical.
Women go to see a doctor more often, men are less likely to, or check their own skin, or ask others to do so. A significant part of the reason for men developing later stage, or multiple skin cancers.
Men are more inclined to remove their shirt when hot, less likely to wear a protective hat. There are exceptions but in general, they don’t have long, thick hair, which can protect key areas from skin cancer.
Sun bed use, or heavy tanning can see women develop melanoma at similar rates to men whilst younger. From around 50 years of age, this turns around, the lifetime sun exposure and reduced protection men choose come back to bite.
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, which should include a hat and wrap around sunglasses.
Although women tend to be more concerned about the ageing effect of the sun’s rays, why shouldn’t men be. Looking old and wrinkled isn’t an asset and at the same time, the prime cause of skin cancer is being negated.
Both sexes should protect themselves throughout life, to eliminate, 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 clinic 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.
You may find the options below useful:
- Save time with an intuitive search on: Skin Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment.
- Up to date news, research and insights: Our Dedicated Skin Cancer Blog.
- The procedures and benefits for all patients from: Skin Cancer Screening.
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