Young women more likely to survive melanoma than men of the same age
A new study says that young white women have a better chance of surviving melanoma than their male counterparts. The report was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association publication, Dermatology.
It is one of the few studies to focus on the differences in survival rates based on gender, study leaders said.
Researchers evaluated data from 26,000 non-Hispanic white adolescents who were diagnosed with melanoma from 1989 through December 2009. The subjects ranged in age from 15 to 39 at the time of diagnosis. During that time, 1,561 deaths were reported.
Even though the men accounted for the minority of total melanoma cases at 39.8 percent, they comprised over 63 percent of the deaths.
“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 said.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Almost half of all cancers in the United States are skin cancers. Melanoma is the most dangerous type.
The ACS reports that more than 76,000 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2013. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 8,000 people die from melanoma every year.
Limiting sun exposure and making sure you don’t get sunburn will go a long way to preventing skin cancers like melanoma, health experts say.
Dr. Deepti Singh, an oncologist and hematologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, says it’s more important to protect yourself against sunburn that many people imagine.
“Those of us in the Midwest look forward to basking in the summer sun after a long winter,” Dr. Singh says. “But overdoing it can pose immediate dangers and put you at risk for skin cancer later in life.”
Jenny Hinegardner, a nurse practitioner with Advocate Medical Group says it’s important to protect your skin even on overcast days.
“Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes, Hinegardner says. Even on cloudy days, everyone should be wearing an SPF of 30 or higher and should reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.”
Study leaders hope the new findings will raise awareness of the health threat and lead to earlier diagnoses.
“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.”
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