Young Men and Skin Cancer

Guys, if you need another reason to use sunscreen this summer, try this one: a new study from the American Medical Association shows that while women get skin cancer more, young men survive it less. 

Men account for less than 40 percent of melanoma cases, but they make up about 64 percent of melanoma-related deaths.

This is important, considering that in the past 40 years melanoma cases have grown by 400 percent among young men and by 800 percent among young women, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Why Men Are More Likely to Die

Since white people account for 95 percent of all melanoma cases, researchers examined 26,107 white men and women in the U.S. ages 15 to 39 with primary invasive melanoma. During the study’s 7.5-year span, 1,561 of the research subjects died and 63.6 percent of them were male.
 
“Adolescent and young adult males were 55 percent more likely to die of melanoma than age-matched females after adjustment for tumor thickness, histologic subtype, presence and extent of metastasis, and anatomical location,” the researchers wrote in a study published today in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

What makes men more likely to die from skin cancer remains the million-dollar question.

Men may be less likely to perform personal skin examinations and, overall, they are less likely to see a doctor. Age, the researchers said, also plays a significant role because young men and women are less knowledgeable about skin cancer and its symptoms.

Still, researchers are convinced there’s a biological component at play because men with less aggressive skin tumors were still more likely to die than women.

“This alarming difference in the outcome highlights the urgent need for both behavioral interventions to promote early detection strategies in young men and further investigation of the biological basis for the sex disparity in melanoma survival,” concluded lead author Dr. Christina S. Gamba of the Stanford University Medical Center in California.

Reducing Your Skin Cancer Risk

Whether it’s time out on the boat or backpacking with buddies, it’s important that men protect themselves from the risks of skin cancer.

UV exposure from the sun and tanning beds was long thought to be the sole cause of melanoma, but experts now know that genetics, environment, and age all play a role.

While you can’t prevent certain risk factors, protecting your skin from sun exposure can decrease your chances of developing a tumor. This includes regularly wearing sunscreen and reapplying it every two hours, avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wearing hats and other protective clothing.

While most people want a healthy summer glow, excessive sun exposure can increase signs of aging in your skin. So besides keeping you looking younger longer, staying out of the sun may save your life.

More on Healthline