Hi, I’m Dr Ryan de Cruz. I’m a Consultant Dermatologist and Director of Southern Dermatology in Melbourne, Australia. With this week being Men’s Health Week, I’m here to talk about skin cancer in men, and what we can do to encourage the men in our lives to be more sun-safe.
How much more likely are men to get skin cancer than women?
Roughly 2 out of 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70 and the risk is about 12% higher in men, compared to women. According to one recent study, men are twice as more likely to be diagnosed with skin, compared to women. Most frighteningly, about 67% of all Australians who die from skin cancer are men, which is why we need to act now to encourage our dads, brothers, sons, and mates to be sun-smart.
Why is skin cancer more common in men than in women?
Sunburn is the leading cause of over 95% of the melanomas diagnosed in Australia. Put simply, men tend to spend more time outdoors and, as a result of this, have more skin cancers because they get more sunburnt.
Unfortunately, another major reason skin cancer is so much more significant in men, is that men are far less likely than women to go for skin check-ups. Men are more likely to leave skin cancers go unchecked and unnoticed. As a result of these, they can end up being far bigger and deadlier in the future
Where on the body do skin cancers most regularly occur in men?
Although skin cancers can appear anywhere on the body, in men, skin cancers are more common on the head and neck, or on the trunk.
What are the easiest things men can do to be more sun-safe?
The easiest thing that men can do to protect from skin cancer is to wear sun protective clothing, apply and reapply SPF 50+ sunscreen, and wear sunglasses. We have a range of fantastic, Australian-made sun protection clothing, that have an Ultraviolet Protection Factor of 50+. Such sun protective clothing can make a great difference to our skin health, and really prevent the need for regular reapplication of sunscreen when we are adequately covered. I really encourage all men to consider investing in these items of clothing, particularly if you enjoy the outdoors.
How can we encourage men to take better care of their skin?
As a general rule, it’s not very common for men to chat about skin cancers and their general health with their friends. But what I’d really like to do is encourage all men to strike up a conversation with their family members, their brothers, fathers, and sons, about what they’re doing to protect themselves and their skin. I recommend all Australians to see their general practitioners or specialist dermatologists for skin checks regularly. We’re very lucky that when we pick up a skin cancer early, it can be very curable. Unfortunately, as a general rule, men tend to present late. And that’s why I’m here to discuss the importance of regular full skin checks with your specialist dermatologist or general practitioner. This being Men’s Health Week, I really encourage all Australian men to have a full skin check, because a simple skin check may save your life.
It is very difficult to the untrained eye to identify melanomas and skin cancers because they can come in many different shapes and sizes.
As Associate Professor Rosemary Nixon from the Skin & Cancer Foundation Inc. says, "the earlier a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better the chance of avoiding surgery, or in the case of a serious melanoma or skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death."