The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal

MAY 2012

The 2012 edition of The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal features medically reviewed, reader-friendly articles such as tanning, the increasing incidence of skin cancer diagnoses among young women, & the prevalence of melanoma among white males over 50.

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Page 52 of 103

Skin Cancer and the Gender Gap Why More Men Die from Skin Cancer MICHAEL STEPPIE, MD D id you know that about half of all melanoma skin cancers occur in men over age 50?1 Did you know that if you're a male baby boomer, you have about twice the risk of dying from melanoma as your female counterparts?2,3 While for women the number of melanoma deaths has decreased in recent years, among white men 50 years of age and older, the number is climbing; melanoma is one of only three cancers with an increasing mortality rate for men.2,4,5 In this day and age, most skin cancers are preventable, yet each year the number of cases continues to climb — above all in men. The in- cidence of melanoma, for example, has been rising for decades,6 and this year, there will be approximately 44,250 new cases and 6,060 deaths among men, vs. 32,000 new cases and 3,120 deaths in women.2 the 5th most common cancer in men.2 Melanoma is now GLARING LIFESTYLE DIFFERENCES Why the disparities between men and women? There are several reasons. One relates to lifestyle differences and the choices men and women make. About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation.7,8 Unprotected UV exposure causes skin damage that adds up over time, and can lead to skin cancer. Fortunately for women, from a fairly young age, they are inundated with ads for and advice to use a wide variety of sunscreens and anti-aging creams to keep their skin looking youthful. Since wearing a If not detected and treated promptly, skin cancers can cause disfigurement or even death, and in keeping with the aforementioned facts, men are far and away less likely than women to go in for timely checkups. broad spectrum sunscreen (which pro- tects against both the UVA and UVB ranges of the UV light spectrum) with an SPF of 15+ and practicing other sun safety behaviors can help prevent effects of skin aging like wrinkles, brown spots, and roughened skin as well as skin cancer, many women take precautions that men simply do not.9 At the same time, some men are in Some men are in a sense literally dying to be outdoors. a sense literally dying to be outdoors. Growing up, most males are encour- aged to get exercise and play outside, while other aspects of their health are ignored. They are more likely to take jobs that require outdoor work, such as construction, farming, and landscaping. As they grow older, many engage in outdoor recreational activi- ties such as golf. Men over age 40 in particular receive the greatest amount of UV exposure.10 Unfortunately, this demographic is also far less likely to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing than women. So if you're a retired, middle-aged man who likes to golf (a game that requires about four straight hours in the sun), the game could be deadly for you. But then, so could playing tennis, fishing, garden- ing, hiking or participating in any outdoor sport without much-needed sun protection. FAILURE TO SELF-MONITOR Compounding their failure to protect their skin, men are also less likely 51

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