Men are generally at a higher risk of developing melanoma, and often have a worse outcome when then develop melanoma. Why is this?
A study from Rutherford and colleagues published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2015 suggested that addressing the differences in stage of melanoma in men may reduce melanoma deaths. In other words, if more men in the UK presented early with melanoma, less would die from the disease.
There appeared to be a difference in the type of melanoma that men developed when compared with women, with more women having a superficial spreading type of melanoma (which are generally earlier stage) than men. However, the authors believed that much of the differences may have come from men delaying seeking help for their melanoma.
This might be due to a lack of understanding of the warning signs of melanoma, or for other patient-related reasons. For example, Forbes and colleagues, again in the British Journal of Cancer, asked why people delay presenting to a doctor with a symptom of cancer (including patients with melanoma).
The most common reason was not realising the symptom was serious, with the other common reasons: being worried about wasting doctor’s time, worry about what the doctor might find, being too busy to make time to see a doctor, difficulty in making a doctor’s appointment and being embarrassed to see a doctor.
So if you or any of the men in your life have a mole that is getting bigger, changing shape or colour, bleeding or becoming crusty, or is itchy or sore – you should see your GP or Dermatologist. To book an appointment with Mr Myles Smith at the Royal Marsden Hospital on 020 7808 2785 or at the Lister Hospital on 020 3770 5864.