Statistics show more men dying from skin cancer

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Skin cancer Sunscreen

Latest statistics show that the number of men who have died from
cancer in the UK has hit 1,000 a year. The figures represents a
jump of 31 per cent in the last decade and also underlines the
importance of specifically targetting men to use sunscreen

Statistics have consistently shown that men are less likely to use sunscreen and keep applying it through the day. Compounding the problem is the fact that fewer men are aware of the first signs of skin cancer and consequently less likely to seek medical treatment at the all-important early stages of the disesase.

The upstart is that more men than women die from this potentially fatal form of skin cancer, a fact that suggests more could be done to market sun care products specifically to the requirements of men.

The latest survey was carried out by Cancer Research UK and shows out of nearly 2,000 men that were questioned 60 per cent never check their backs for signs of skin cancer. Meanwhile 70 per cent don't think they are at risk of skin cancer even though one third said they had been sunburnt.

Furthermore, the survey found that the worst culprits were the under 24s and the over 65s, who were least likely to pay attention to signs of cancer.

The statistics all point to the fact that prevention, which Cancer Research UK says should include a good quality sunscreen of SPF 15 or more, is more important than ever if the number of deaths is to be reduced.

Dr Catherine Harwood, consultant dermatologist for Cancer Research UK said, "The thickness of a melanoma, at diagnosis, is very important in determining the outcome of the cancer," she said. "Men seem to be generally less aware of mole changes than women and as a result they often present when the melanoma is already quite thick. Detecting a melanoma in its early stages means earlier treatment with a much better chance of survival."

Men often first develop melanomas on their back. This is because they often work or take place in sports outside without any protection, leading to burning. But because the back is difficult to self-assess it means that the first signs of cancers are often not picked up soon enough.

This year Cancer Research UK's SunSmart Campaign is targeting men in an effort to raise awareness of skin cancer and the importance of reporting any skin changes to a doctor. It is also focussing on outdoor workers who are likely to have more sun exposure than people who work in an office.

The campaign also suggests that there could be further opportunities to market sun care products to males. In 2003 Garnia was the first personal care company to market a mass market sun care range specifically at men. The launch was part of the company's revamp of its Ambre Solaire range.

But other than this there are only a few niche sun care brands that are currently marketed at males, suggesting that there is room for growth.

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