Men are at higher risk for melanoma. According to Melanoma International Foundation “an estimated 44,250 new cases of invasive melanoma in men and 32,000 in women will be diagnosed in the US in 2012.” Based on the National Cancer Institute’s most recent statistics from its Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, for approximately every one woman who dies of melanoma, two men die, with a 1.7 to 4.1 ratio. Along with liver cancer and esophageal cancer, melanoma is one of only three cancers with an increasing mortality rate for men according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Many men have been exposed to further risk through use of the drug sildenafil, the active ingredient in Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. Recent studies have shown that the drug accelerates melanoma growth and that men who’ve taken sildenafil are 84 percent more likely to develop melanoma than men who do not. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is evaluating the need for regulatory action regarding the class of drug known as phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5 inhibitor) and the potential serious risk of skin melanomas.
There is more bad news for men regarding melanoma. Doctor’s Lounge reports on a study published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that found that more melanomas were self-detected by women and the melanomas that were self-detected by women had a better prognosis than those that were self-detected by men. One specific difference noted between men and women was that men had significantly more melanomas on non-easily visible locations.
The researchers studied 783 patients diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma between 1996 and 2012 with the goals to “to determine who first detects melanoma, the reasons that patients with melanoma consult a doctor, and the impact of detection patterns on the characteristics and prognosis of melanoma.” The study authors noted that many patients were seeking consultation at the advanced stages of the disease, rather than detecting the melanoma early, which greatly improves prognosis.
The results were that most melanomas were self-detected (53 percent) rather than found by dermatologists, and those self-detected melanomas were thicker and more frequently ulcerated, developed metastases more often than melanomas that were detected by dermatologists. These self-detected melanomas were associated with more melanoma-related deaths. Some of the reasons that patients who self-detected ended up consulting doctors were bleeding, itching/pain, or nodule enlargement. As previously mentioned, the researchers noted that more women self-detected melanomas than men and they furthermore had better prognoses than the men in the study.
“Patients with melanomas detected by dermatologists had better prognoses than patients with self-detected melanomas. Patients with melanomas that were self-detected by women had better prognoses than those that were self-detected by men, especially for patients >70 years of age. This group might therefore be a logical target for melanoma detection education,” wrote the study authors.
National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program
Skin Cancer Foundation
American Academy of Dermatology