Men over 50 need to get in the swing of preventing and detecting skin cancer | aad.org

Men over 50 need to get in the swing of preventing and detecting skin cancer

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (May 14, 2012) —As everyone knows, growing older brings an increased number of health concerns. In fact, dermatologists warn that men older than 50 have an increased risk of developing melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer. Unfortunately, a new survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) found that most men are lax when it comes to proper sun protection and are unsure how to examine their skin for skin cancer.

Survey statistics

The Academy conducted an online survey of adults nationwide that found:

  • When outside in the sun, less than one-third of men (29 percent) say they "always" protect their skin, compared with 43 percent of women.
  • A significantly larger percentage of men (39 percent) than women (28 percent) agreed that they prefer to enjoy sunshine and not worry about what they should do to protect themselves from it.
  • Less than half of men (46 percent) indicated they knew how to examine their skin for signs of skin cancer compared with 59 percent of women.

“This survey demonstrates that many men do not protect themselves from the sun when outdoors and that some still believe that sun exposure is good for their health. This is a very troubling combination in light of the fact that the major risk factor for melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet light,” said board-certified dermatologist Thomas E. Rohrer, MD, FAAD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Brown University School of Medicine. “Men need to examine their skin and see a dermatologist if they spot anything changing, bleeding, or growing."

To address the increased risk of skin cancer in men 50 and older and raise awareness of this health issue, the Academy produced television and radio public service advertisements (PSAs) targeting this group. “Golf” uses the humor of hazards on the golf course to point out that the missed hazard of a spot on a person’s skin could actually be a killer. These PSAs will be distributed to television, cable, and radio stations nationwide beginning in May and also posted to YouTube. The TV PSAs can be viewed at www.aad.org/psa.

Skin cancer facts
  • More than 3.5 million skin cancer cases affecting 2 million people are diagnosed annually.
  • It is estimated that there will be about 131,810 new cases of melanoma in 2012 — 55,560 noninvasive (in situ) and 76,250 invasive (44,250 men and 32,000 women).
  • Caucasians and men older than 50 are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population.
  • Although before age 40 melanoma incidence rates are higher in women than in men, after 40, rates are almost twice as high in men as in women.
  • The five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98 percent.
“The survey results should serve as a wake-up call to men to be vigilant about protecting their skin from sun exposure and examining their skin regularly for skin cancer,” said Dr. Rohrer. “Loved ones can assist by examining their partners’ skin and noting anything suspicious. These exams are vital since the early detection of skin cancer helps save lives.”

In an effort to increase the public’s understanding of skin cancer and motivate people to change their behavior to prevent and detect skin cancer, the Academy launched the new SPOT Skin Cancer™ public awareness initiative this May. The campaign’s simple tagline — “Prevent. Detect. Live.” — focuses on the positive actions people can take to protect themselves from skin cancer, including seeing a dermatologist when appropriate.

Monday, May 7, is Melanoma Monday® and the official launch of Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month®. Also debuting on Melanoma Monday® is the SPOT Skin Cancer™ program’s new website — www.SpotSkinCancer.org — where visitors can learn how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map for tracking changes in your skin, and find free skin cancer screenings in their area. Those affected by skin cancer also will be able to share their story via the website and download free materials to educate others in their community.

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