Melanoma: The difference between men and women
Tastes, habits, and recreational pursuits – we all know men and women are different and that’s great, but when research shows that those differences mean men are more likely to develop a melanoma then it’s worth noting why. Raising awareness about the differences which increase men’s vulnerability can help men to think about what they can do to manage the risk.
INCREASED UV EXPOSURE
Occupational and recreational pursuits – Men tend to spend more time outdoors than women, so they are at increased risk of sunburn and long term skin damage. The melanoma incidence is a third higher amongst rural men with outdoor occupations than those living and working in the city!
Protection – Although men are better at wearing a hat and sunglasses in the sun and less likely to sunbake than women, they are not so good at ensuring they stay in the shade and are less likely to regularly reapply sunscreen. This means that overall their sun exposure can be higher than that of their female counterparts when outdoors for long periods.
DELAY IN SEEKING ADVICE
Men are more likely to present with thicker melanoma and there are a couple of reasons why:
Melanoma location – In women, melanoma commonly occur on their legs and in men they commonly develop on the back, therefore can be more difficult to notice early.
Response to concern or risk – Women are more likely to take notice of a suspicious spot or a mole which has changed and seek medical advice, whereas men tend to leave things longer before getting professional advice. Often men will only seek a medical opinion when prompted by another person.
It is suggested that the delay in seeking help contributes to men generally presenting with thicker melanoma and it is the thickness of the melanoma that determines the success of treatment.
The importance of checking your skin, coming for annual follow-ups and visiting MoleMap or your doctor if you notice any changes cannot be stressed enough. If the melanoma message gets across, the outcome is far more positive; men who are aware of the signs to look for have been shown to present with thinner melanoma.
It is never too late to start monitoring for melanoma, using sun protection and to getting to know your own skin – all are important weapons in melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer prevention and detection.