Harvard Men's Health Watch

Study shows female 'advantage' in melanoma survival

Women are less likely than men to die from skin cancer, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Even after adjusting for earlier diagnosis in women, the female survival advantage persisted.

The scientists looked closely at four treatment trials for melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. They found that women were 30% less likely to die overall from their melanoma. Of the estimated 8,790 deaths related to melanoma in 2011 in the United States, 35% were in women.

The reasons for the apparent skin cancer survival disparity between men and women remains unclear. Past research suggests that men's reluctance to check themselves for worrisome moles or be screened by a doctor likely plays a role. The European study emphasizes what is at stake—life itself—for men who are reluctant to take action to reduce their skin cancer risk. This applies particularly to older men who have already accumulated a lifetime of sun exposure.

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