As his patient sat on the examination table, dermatologist Jeremy Brewer explained the pathology report, telling him that the lesion on his chest was a melanoma and that a minor surgery would be required to remove it.
Stunned, says Brauer, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health.
“I told him, ‘You embody a very big part of the men’s problem when it comes to skin cancer.'” “There’s just so much disconnect in men’s perception of the sun and sun damage and skin cancer,” says Brauer, MD, a dermatologist in Perchis, New York.
In 2023, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 97,610 cases of invasive skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States; Of these, 58,120 will be men, and 39,490 will be women. Of the 7,990 people who will die of skin cancer, 5,420 will be men.
Melanoma, a fast-growing cancer, can spread to blood vessels and lymph nodes and attack other organs, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
What makes men more susceptible to melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer?
Some studies suggest that men’s skin may not retain as much antioxidants as women’s skin does, which could increase the risk of skin cancer. Others suggest that higher estrogen levels in women may provide skin protection. But men like Prawer’s patient show the effects of behavior.
Surveys show that men tend to know less about their skin cancer risks than women and are therefore less likely to use sunscreen.
Don M. Holman, a behavioral scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has studied sunscreen use in the United States. “About half of women say they use sunscreen regularly when they spend time outdoors on a sunny day, while only a quarter of men say they do,” she says. “And more than 40 percent of men say they never use sunscreen when they’re outside in the sun.”
“Some men may actually view sunscreen use as feminine behaviour,” Holman adds.
Men are not aware of sun damage
Men tend to work and play outdoors more than women do, says Ida Oringo, MD, clinical professor and chief of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Waco, Texas.
Men also don’t seem to know much about the dangers of the sun. Men gave fewer correct answers than women in a survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology about sun exposure and cancer risk.
Men often think you can get a healthy tan (all types of tans indicate sun damage to the skin, says Orengo), that a “tan base” can protect you from the sun (it can’t), and that you can’t get skin cancer. outside. Patches of road like the skin between your toes (you can).
Experts agree that one of the best ways to avoid skin cancer is to avoid exposure to the sun. But if you’re going to be spending time outdoors, protect yourself. Sunscreen, cream, patch, or spray can be used in a variety of ways. Find one you like and use it, says Orengo.
Covering all exposed skin, including your ears and the back of your neck, says Holman. Reapply every two hours or when you get out of the water or when you sweat. If you’re a hairy guy, be sure to rub in sunscreen carefully, says Stacy P. Salop, MD, clinical assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College. Don’t rely on hair to protect your skin.
And sunscreen isn’t enough, Holman adds: Stay in the shade when you can, and wear a hat and sunglasses. You should also avoid the harshest rays of the sun: if your phone’s weather app he have UV index, consult him, says Holman. Avoid outdoor activities in the middle of the day when the index is above five. If it’s 11 or older, stay inside.
Finally, consider UV protective clothing. “I’m a huge fan of sunscreen clothing,” says Salop. “It provides the equivalent of 50 SPF and you don’t have to put sunscreen on for that much of your body. And then you don’t need someone else to put it on your back.”
Another challenge for men is that they often get skin cancer on their backs and the tops of their heads, places they can’t see. As a result, men often miss the variable moles that are the hallmark of melanoma. This may explain why some studies show that men who have partners have an earlier detection of skin cancer — and health outcomes — than unmarried men.
Many male patients come in with “things circled all over their bodies,” Prawer says. “His wife or partner cares about them a lot, which is great.”
Dermatologists would rather reassure you that you’re okay than discover skin cancer too late. “We’re great at treating skin cancer when we notice it in its early stages when it’s only on the skin,” says Salop. “And we are terrible at hitting it when it spreads inside the body. So early detection is key.”
One of the biggest risk factors for skin cancer is a previous sunburn.
“If you have even one blister from a sunburn, it automatically puts you in a higher risk category,” Salop points out, as does blonde or red hair, blue eyes, fair skin, and more than 50 moles on your body. It may be hard to believe, but the sunburn you got as a teenager could be responsible for the skin cancer you developed in your 50s. Every time you burn, you increase your risk of injury. And according to the Holman study, more than a third of Americans say they’ve had a sunburn in the past year.
In addition, while white men are more likely to develop skin cancer, black men are more likely to die from the diagnosis once diagnosed — possibly because their diagnosis tends to be at a later stage.
“When you get a sunburn, ultraviolet light enters your skin and damages the DNA in the skin cells,” says Oringo. Then your immune system goes in there and says, “Oh my God, we have to repair this damage before cancer starts,” your immune system repairs the damage. This may happen again and again – until you reach your 40s, 50s and 60s when your immune system naturally starts to be less effective. When the DNA breaks down again, the immune system can’t repair it and the cancer grows.”
To ensure early detection, see your dermatologist for an annual skin cancer checkup.
In between, Brower says, check yourself. He recommends posing naked in front of a full-length mirror once a month. Scan your body and hold a hand mirror to check your back. Look for anything “new, changing, or unusual,” Brauer says, and if you find it, see your doctor.
The ABCs of protecting yourself from skin cancer
The ABCDE guide was developed by dermatologists to help patients recognize skin cancer on their bodies:
aSymmetry: A melanoma lesion is often oddly shaped
BArrangement: It has irregular borders
cColour: It has different colours
Driameter: It is usually 6 mm wide, about the size of a pencil eraser
Hvolving: changes quickly on the skin.
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