Melanoma Mortality Rates on the Rise for Men Worldwide

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An up-to-date analysis of melanoma mortality rates show that deaths among men are rising, but stabilizing or decreasing in women.

Although malignant melanoma incidence has stabilized or declined in women, melanoma-associated mortality rates have risen among men throughout the world, according to new research presented at the 2018 National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference.

Skin cancer remains the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 65,000 cases of melanoma estimated in 2011, according to the CDC. Without additional prevention efforts, melanoma incidence is likely to increase over the next 15 years. Not only is the disease deadly, but melanoma is costly to treat as well. From 2011 to 2030, the CDC projects that the annual cost of treating patients with melanoma is expected to increase from $457 million to $1.6 billion.

The study includes worldwide data on deaths gathered by the World Health Organization across 33 countries with the most reliable data. The researchers aimed to analyze recent melanoma mortality rates across the world to identify patterns and understand whether new diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies have had any effect.

For the analysis, the researchers examined age-standardized death rates between 1985 and 2015, taking into account the demographics of each country. Overall, the data showed that melanoma death rates in men were rising in all but 1 country, the Czech Republic, where the researchers found a decrease in men’s melanoma death rates at an estimated annual percentage decrease of 0.7%. According to the study, the highest 3-year average death rates from 2013 to 2015 were found 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), with the lowest in Japan (0.24 in men and 0.18 in women).

Among women, Israel and the Czech Republic experienced the largest declines in mortality rates, at 23.4% and 15.5%, respectively.

The researchers noted that more research is needed to understand this trend, but public health efforts aimed at men can help raise awareness of the disease and prevention efforts.

“There is evidence that suggests men are less likely to protect themselves from the sun or engage with melanoma awareness and prevention campaigns,” lead author Dorothy Yang, a junior physician at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, said in a press release about the findings. “There is also ongoing work looking for any biological factors underlying the difference in mortality rates between men and women.”

References

Melanoma death rates are rising in men but static or falling in women [news release]. NCRI’s website. https://www.ncri.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Yang-melanoma-for-online.pdf. Accessed November 5, 2018.

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