Death rates from malignant melanoma are some 70% higher in men than women, despite similar numbers being diagnosed with the disease each year, according to research conducted by Cancer Research UK and the University of Leeds.
Incidence rates for malignant melanoma are similar in both sexes, with 17.2 men per 100,000 diagnosed compared with 17.3 women. But mortality rates differ signicantly, at 3.4 per 100,000 (1,300 deaths per year) among men, compared with 2.0 per 100,000 (900 deaths per year) in women.
Separate research has suggested the difference between the sexes could be in part because men tend to be more reluctant to visit their doctor, so are more likely to be diagnosed when melanoma is at a more advanced stage, according to Professor Julia Newton-Bishop from the University of Leeds.
“There also seem to be strong biological reasons behind the differences and we’re working on research to better understand why men and women’s bodies deal with their melanomas in different ways,” she added. “We also know that men and women tend to develop melanoma in different places– more often on the back and chest for men, and on the arms and legs for women. If melanoma does develop on your back then it may be more difcult to spot. Asking your partner to check your back is a good idea.” The gap is predicted to widen in the future, with death rates from malignant melanoma on the increase in men but remaining stable for women. See also: Melanocytic lesions: effective
management in primary care.