Page last updated at 09:24 GMT, Tuesday, 16 May 2006 10:24 UK

More men dying from skin cancer

Melanoma is the most dangerous form

The number of men who have died from skin cancer in the UK has topped a thousand a year - a rise of nearly a third over the past decade.

Figures from Cancer Research UK suggest a major reason may be that many men fail to check their moles.

Fewer men than women are diagnosed with melanoma but more die of the illness because it is usually detected later, when it is more difficult to treat.

Skin cancer is caused by over-exposure to the ultraviolet light from the sun.

Men seem to be generally less aware of mole changes than women
Dr Catherine Harwood

Dr Catherine Harwood, of Cancer Research UK, said: "The thickness of a melanoma, at diagnosis, is very important in determining the outcome of the cancer.

"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."

The latest figures show 1,777 people, including 1,002 men, die from melanoma each year in the UK.

It is the second-fastest rising cancer in men after prostate.

Cases of melanoma overall have risen 42% in the last decade while prostate cancer has increased 48%.

World-wide, the incidence of melanoma is roughly doubling every 10-20 years in countries with white populations.

Melanomas in men are found most frequently on the trunk, followed by the head, neck, arm and leg.


But a survey of 2,000 men conducted by Cancer Research UK showed almost 60% never check their back for new moles or changes in existing moles.

Almost 70% of men questioned in the survey said they did not think they were at risk of skin cancer although one third of them admitted they had suffered from sunburn.

The poll also revealed that men under 24 years old and over 65 were the least likely to visit a doctor if they discovered changes or a new mole.

Dr Harwood said: "Detecting a melanoma in its early stages means earlier treatment with a much better chance of survival."

She urged people to be aware of changes in the skin including a new growth or a spot or mole that itches, hurts, bleeds or will not heal.

Malignant melanoma is the most dangerous of the three forms and also the rarest.

It accounts for about 10% of reported cases of skin cancer and can spread throughout the body to form secondary tumours.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of the disease but is rarely life-threatening.

Squamous cell carcinoma spreads less rapidly and causes fewer deaths than melanoma.

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