We heard some interesting information recently:  a patient contacted us to ask if it was correct that men’s melanoma progresses worse than women.  When asked questions like this, we turn to one of our advisors.  Here, Myles Smith talks about men and melanoma.

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 (read here) 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 (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/melanoma-skin-cancer/symptoms/) of melanoma, or for other patient related reasons. For example, Forbes and colleague(read here) 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.

 

Myles is a Consultant General Surgeon and Surgical Oncologist at the Royal Marsden. He provides regular updates for us.