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Melanoma death rates in men increase

Monday November 5th, 2018

Increasing numbers of men are dying from malignant melanoma, while the rates are steady or falling for women, according to new analysis.

Delegates at the 2018 NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow, UK, heard yesterday (4 November 2018) that a study of worldwide data on deaths gathered by the World Health Organisation, which focused on 33 countries with the most reliable data, found that melanoma death rates in men were rising in all but one country.

Dr Dorothy Yang, a junior doctor at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, UK, who presented the findings, said: "The major risk factor for melanoma is overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, either from sun exposure or from using sunbeds.

“Despite public health efforts to promote awareness of melanoma and encourage sun-smart behaviours, melanoma incidence has been increasing in recent decades. However, some new reports have identified signs of stabilisation and decline in melanoma death rates in places like Australia and Northern Europe.

"We wanted to conduct an up-to-date analysis of recent melanoma mortality rates across the world to try to understand these patterns, and whether new diagnosis, treatment and prevention strategies are having any effect."

The researchers studied age-standardised death rates in the 33 countries between 1985 and 2015 and extracted the rates for malignant melanoma to compare the rates for men and women and to look for trends over time.

The Czech Republic was the only country where the researchers found a decrease in men's melanoma death rate, with an estimated annual percentage decrease of 0.7% between 1985 and 2015. Israel and the Czech Republic experienced the largest decreases in mortality rates in women, 23.4% and 15.5% respectively.

The rates were higher in men than in women across all countries studies, with the highest three-year average death rates for 2013 to 2015 in Australia (5.72 per 100,000 men and 2.53 per 100,000 in women) and Slovenia (3.86 in men and 2.58 in women). The lowest rates were in Japan (0.24 in men and 0.18 in women).

Dr Yang added: "More research will be needed to explore the factors underlying these trends. There is evidence that suggests men are less likely to protect themselves from the sun or engage with melanoma awareness and prevention campaigns. There is also ongoing work looking for any biological factors underlying the difference in mortality rates between men and women."

Yang D et al. Abstract number 1952: Trends in mortality from malignant melanoma: an observational study of the World Health Organisation mortality database from 1985 to 2015.

Tags: Asia | Cancer | Dermatology | Europe | Men's Health | UK News | World Health

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