Could men be more vulnerable to skin cancer than women?
21 August 2013Despite similar diagnosis numbers, more men are dying from skin cancer than women, according to a study by Cancer Research UK. The most serious type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, kills 1,300 men and 900 women every year – a gap expected to widen.Although one reason could be men delaying seeking help, there could be biological reasons for the findings. Cancer Research UK dermatologist professor Julia Newton-Bishop suspects women have stronger immune systems. “Research has suggested the difference between the sexes could be in part because men are more likely to be diagnosed when melanoma is at a more advanced stage,” she said. “But there also seem to be strong biological reasons behind the differences, and we're working on research to better understand why men and women's bodies deal with their melanomas in different ways. “Stage for stage, men do less well with this cancer so there's something very important that this is telling us about how the body deals it. “We think it is something to do with the immune system rather than hormones because pre- and post-menopausal fare the same.” Unlike women, who tend to develop the condition on their front or arms, in the majority of cases men develop skin cancer on their back – which makes it more difficult to spot. Male incidence rates are now more than five times higher than they were 30 years ago – rising from 2.7 per 100,000 to 17.2 per 100,000.