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  • Fauzia Haque

Men & Melanoma: What’s the Correlation?

By: Fauzia Haque, Contributing Writer

Skin cancer within men has always been a concern, especially within men who have a lighter complexion, of non-Hispanic descent. This is evident with the rise in the rates of melanoma plaguing men of all ages, which has been more alarming due to the typical diagnosis of melanoma being in men above the age of 80 (American Academy of Dermatology Association). Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, occurring when the pigment producing cells, known as melanocytes, alter in its DNA and multiply uncontrollably within the skin tissues. If it is not diagnosed and treated at an early stage, melanoma can become severely dangerous due to its rapid ability to metastasize into other organs.

Recent discoveries from Men’s Health covered by the InsideHook showcases that fatal cases of melanoma are on the rise amongst men, more specifically among non-Hispanic white men between ages of 15 and 39. Melanoma targeting the head and the neck rose to 51%, with more than 60% of the deaths from these cases being young men. The significance in the way that the gender disparities are so vast in melanoma cases are apparent within old age too as the American Academy of Dermatology found that men are three times more likely to contract melanoma beyond the age of 80.

While there is no exact reason as to why men are much more likely to develop melanoma at an alarming rate, there are many theories that dermatologists and medical researchers have brought up in order to work with reason. However, the following theories are among the few that they have found to be logical as to why melanoma develops in men.

Typically, men are more likely to take off their shirts if they are doing work outside or if they are playing sports, which makes them more vulnerable to melanoma because they are less likely to apply sunscreen to their bodies and in the appropriate manner. The difference in hormones are much more apparent as well as in males, the testosterone in their bodies may allow for a catalyst maneuver towards the metastasis of melanoma in the cells. This provides a deductible reason as to why younger men are more at risk. Another reason is that men are less likely to worry and fret over skin cancer, so they usually do not care to get yearly checkups nor do they check themselves for any early symptoms.

In order to prevent the rising rates of melanoma in men of all ages, it is important that men invest more time and attention into education themselves about proper skin care and sun protection. While decreased sun protection on its own does not provide a reason for why men are much more likely to get melanoma, it can significantly reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. Sunscreen is the first and foremost prevention tool that should be used, even on bleak and gloomy days. It is recommended that a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 is used. In the case that sunscreen is not the most favorable, wearing UV-resistant clothing, wide hats, and sunglasses, and staying out of the sun can all help decrease the sizable risk of melanoma in men.

Dermatologists have agreed that men need to become more aware of the prevalence of melanoma and they need to take more caution and care. There is a 98% survival rate if melanoma is caught in the body before metastasis, but, in the adverse scenario that it becomes much more metastatic, the survival rate drastically decreases to just 25%. It can be hard to spot and identify melanoma as it can appear as an obvious dark brown abnormality, but it can also appear as small, pink spots like the typical blister or bump. Skin exams are available and can even be done at home to check for such symptoms. However, professional skin exams can be done for free, like those that are done by the American Academy of Dermatology, to be entirely sure that there are no symptoms or that the cancer is caught early on. If any of the symptoms of melanoma appear, like unusual growth in the skin, it is important to seek the guidance of a medical professional right away in order to get the potential symptoms diagnosed as early as possible so that treatment can be applicable.

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