The Skin-Cancer Gender Gap
Skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age, race or gender. When it comes to skin cancer prevention and detection, however, it seems that men need to brush up on their knowledge.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). More than 8,500 people are diagnosed with the disease every day.
Among the groups most at risk are Caucasians and men older than 50. And the incidence in in men ages 80 and older is three times higher than women of the same age, according to an AAD fact sheet.
But despite their increased risk, men show less knowledge of skin cancer than women, the AAD found in a survey this year.
The survey found that only 56 percent of men know that there’s no such thing as a healthy tan, compared to 76 percent of women.
And just 54 percent of men know that getting a base tan is not a healthy way to protect your skin from the sun, compared to 70 percent of women.
Additionally, only 56 percent of men know that skin cancer can occur on areas of the skin not typically exposed to the sun, compared to 65 percent of women.
“It’s important for both men and women to protect their skin from harmful ultraviolet rays and regularly examine their entire body, including hard-to-see areas, for signs of skin cancer,” says board-certified dermatologist Abel Torres, MD, JD, FAAD, president of the AAD. “While our survey results indicate that men don’t know as much about skin cancer prevention and detection as women, men over 50 have a higher risk of developing melanoma, so it’s especially important for them to be vigilant about protecting and monitoring their skin.”
In recognition of Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month® in May, the AAD is urging people to make a habit of using sun protection and performing regular skin self-exams, especially with the aid of a partner.
“To keep your skin looking good and reduce your skin cancer risk, the AAD recommends protecting yourself from the sun by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher,” Dr. Torres says. “And since skin cancer — including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer — is highly treatable when detected early, it’s important to regularly take a good look at your skin and check it for suspicious spots, asking someone you trust to help you examine hard-to-see areas. If you notice any irregular spots on your skin, or anything changing, itching or bleeding, see a board-certified dermatologist.”
The American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, has a membership of more than 19,000 worldwide. For more information, visit www.aad.org.