Warning for men over 45: Twice as many men as women die from melanoma

Thursday 20 November, 2014


Victorian men over the age of 45 are on notice as new data shows their numbers of melanoma diagnoses and deaths far exceed those of women.

New Cancer Council data shows that twice as many men over the age of 45 are dying of melanoma than women the same age. Melanoma diagnoses are also 41 percent higher for men than for their female counterparts.1

Cancer Council Victoria’s Director of Prevention Craig Sinclair said the figures were alarming and that men needed to be more vigilant about protecting their skin or more lives would be lost.

“This is a warning for men. We know they spend more time outside during UV peak times, yet are less likely to use sun protection compared with women.2 Men are also less likely to go to their doctor − this could mean skin cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, when it’s more difficult to treat.”

A separate survey tracking the behaviours of Victorian men 45 to 69 years last summer found that while more men than women used broad-brimmed hats, men were lagging behind in their use of sun-protective clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses and shade to protect their skin on summer weekends. For example, just one-quarter of men used sunscreen. Sunscreen re-application every two hours was dismal, at just 10 per cent.3

“The good news is that you can reduce risk of skin cancer at any age, whether you are 16 or 60, with good sun protection behaviours. This summer we urge men to combine all five sun protection measures − clothing, sunscreen, hats, shade and sunglasses – to cut their skin cancer risk,” Mr Sinclair said.

Epworth Healthcare’s Director of Dermatology Rod Sinclair said men over 45 years need to be aware of the importance of detecting skin cancers early.

“Almost all skin cancers can be successfully treated if found at early stages, yet the majority of my patients are men aged 45 or older who wait too long to get a suspicious spot checked,” said Dr Sinclair.

“If you are worried about a new spot or an existing spot that has changed in shape, colour or size, get it checked by your doctor as soon as you can, because if left untreated a skin cancer such as melanoma can become life-threatening in as little as six weeks.”

In Victoria 1,119 men aged 45 and older are diagnosed with melanoma and 217 die from the disease each year.

 

  1. Thursfield V, etal. Cancer in Victoria: Statistics & Trends 2013. Cancer Council Victoria:Melbourne, Australia 2014.
  2. Volkov A, Dobbinson SJ. 2013–14 National Sun Protection Survey: Report 2. Sun protective behaviours and sunburn incidence on summer weekends among Australians in summer 2013–14. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria:Melbourne, Australia, November 2014.
  3. Dunstone K. Summer 2013-14 online tracking survey results: Skin cancer prevention knowledge, attitudes and behaviours among Victorians aged 45-69 years. Cancer Council Victoria:Research Report for SunSmart. Melbourne 2014.
Updated: 20 Nov, 2014