Skin cancer death rates soar, mostly for men

Leslie Hanson
November 7, 2018

Melanoma skin cancer death rates in men are on the rise in most countries, but are stable or declining for women in some, according to a new study. However, the same can not be said for men as revealed in the latest research presented at the 2018 NCRI Cancer Conference in the United Kingdom.

The study focused on 33 developed countries in Europe, North America and Australasia, as they had the most reliable data.

"We wanted to conduct an up-to-date analysis of recent melanoma mortality rates across the world to try to understand these patterns, and whether new diagnosis, treatment and prevention strategies are having any effect", she added.

While the number of women dying from melanoma has seen a steady decline or stabilization in most countries. As of now, researchers suspect that men are simply not adequately protecting themselves from the sun.

In some other sun-loving nations, however, women saw at least as sharp a jump from 1985 to 2015 in death rates as men: The Netherlands (58 per cent), Ireland (49 per cent), Belgium (67 per cent) and Spain (74 per cent).

Between 2013 and 2015, the highest three-year averages were in Australia (5.72 melanoma deaths for every 100,000 men and 2.53 per 100,000 in women) and in Slovenia (3.86 per 100,000 for men and 2.58 in women).

The results were presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow. According to a recent study, skin cancer death rates are on the rise in several countries.

Other countries where female mortality from the disease went down over the same period are Austria (nine per cent), the Czech Republic (16 per cent), and Israel (23 per cent).

One of the presenters of the research, Dorothy Yang, said that the major risk factor for melanoma is "overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, either from sun exposure or from using sunbeds". "There is also ongoing work looking for any biological factors underlying the difference in mortality rates between men and women", explained Dr. Yang. This is an important finding that requires further scrutiny.

Melanoma, regarded as the most serious kind of skin cancer, was estimated to cause more than 9,000 deaths per year in the United States. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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