Melanoma Gender Gap

Men are more likely to get melanoma in their life than women. Learn about why there's this gap and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
man in UPF swim shirt

There’s a gender gap when it comes to diagnosis and survival rates of melanoma. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, men are more likely over their lifetime to accumulate more unprotected sun exposure than women, but are less likely to wear sunscreen or get their skin checked regularly by a board certified dermatologist.

Studies have shown that women are more proactive about monitoring and maintaining their general health than men, but according to some eye opening skin cancer statistics, men need to do even more to protect themselves from the dangerous effects of too much sun exposure.

Why Are Men More Likely to Get Melanoma?

There are many factors that contribute to the discrepancy of high melanoma mortality rates in men. Between outdoor work and recreation, as well as, a lack of cosmetic need for applying sunscreen (unlike women), men and much of the general public simply lack the necessary knowledge regarding the dangers of UV exposure and the importance of sun protection and early detection.

This isn’t to say that all men lack general knowledge about sun protection. Most wear a hat and sunglasses when it’s time to head outdoors, but are less likely to slather on sunscreen on a daily basis.

Just 51 percent of men in the U.S. reported using sunscreen in the previous 12 months and an alarming 70 percent did not know the warning signs of skin cancer. -Skin Cancer Foundation Survey

Male Melanoma Facts

  • Men are nearly twice as likely as women to die from melanoma.
  • Men are twice as likely to develop basal and squamous cell skin cancers than women (which if diagnosed, incidentally may increase your risk for developing other cancers)

Women are more likely to get skin cancer and melanoma on their arms and legs “while men cannot see the area of their body that’s at the highest risk for developing a melanoma, which is the back.”

And that means they don’t detect something if it’s starting to bleed, scab, change or grow”, explains Julie K. Karen, MD, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer at CompleteSkinMD in New York City, during an interview with The Skin Cancer Foundation. This information is a key factor in early detection and diagnosis.

Every dermatologist will tell you that self-examination is so important. If you see a spot or unusual mole on yourself, friend or family member–don’t hesitate to get it checked. Self-detection is one the the best ways skin cancer and melanoma are spotted and it is sometimes our loved ones that notice a change before we do.

What Can We Do to Turn These Alarming Skin Cancer Statistics Around?

Ladies, we are the best health advocates for the men in our lives! We love our fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, boyfriends, husbands (you get the point), so encourage them to cover up and to get their skin checked regularly.

The 5 year survival rate for melanoma that is detected and treated before it reaches the lymph nodes is 98 percent. This is great news for early detection efforts, so we must keep spreading the word!

Fellas, what can you do? Get checked by a dermatologist! You should be getting your skin checked by a board certified dermatologist at least once per year, more if you have concerns.

Shield your skin by wearing UV protective clothing, a wide brim hat, and applying a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen daily. Seek the shade during peak hours (10 AM – 4 PM), wear UV protective sunglasses, and most importantly, monitor your skin for any changes between your annual dermatologist visits.

For those of you who don’t know how to perform a self skin check, click here for a step by step guide.

Practicing sun safety is easy, and everyone deserves to be able to live and have fun outdoors!