You don't have to live in Australia for long to realise that skin cancer is a major concern. If you were born after 1980, chances are you've heard 'slip slop slap' on the television and radio for decades, more recently adding 'seek and slide' to the mix.
Australia is home to some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with extreme UV ratings for most of the year across most of the country.
Anyone can be impacted by this terrible disease, with some being at higher risk than others, but there is one demographic who notoriously assumes they are bulletproof when it comes to the sun: men.
Men are a high risk group for developing skin cancer
- In 2017, 14,846 people were diagnosed with melanoma - the most dangerous type of skin cancer - and 60 per cent of those were men.
- In 2020, of the 1401 people who died of melanoma, 939 were men.
- According to a study conducted by the Cancer Council, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer than women, with a 1 in 14 chance compared to 1 in 24 for women.
- Sadly, men have a 1 in 84 chance of their melanoma being fatal compared to 1 in 240 women succumbing to the disease.
With 250,000 men being diagnosed with skin cancer every year, the disparity and urgency becomes clear.
Why are men at greater risk?
One of the biggest reasons that men are at greater risk of skin cancer comes down to a lack of attention to sun protection and a lack of regular skin checks. Here are some other reasons on top of that...
Men are less likely to use sun protection
in comparison to women who are already skin conscious with makeup and skincare products. According to a study by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, women are more likely to wear sunscreen than men on a day-to-day basis.
Sunburn is the leading cause of melanoma in Australia, causing up to 95% of cases, and during an average weekend, one in eight Australian adults and one in five teens end up with sunburn, according to Mole Map.
The Cancer Council revealed in their latest studies that of 310 people admitted to an emergency room in WA with severe sunburn in 2021, 165 of them were male.
Men tend to spend a lot more time outdoors than women
Men are stereotyped as being the one who mows the lawn and cooks the BBQ. Additionally, with males dominating the trade industry by a whopping 83.8%, it is fair to assume more men are working outside every day in the blistering heat when the UV levels are at their highest.
Men have thicker skin
The difference found in the skin of men compared to women's skin is less fat and their ability to hold onto collagen. These factors make the skin of a male more susceptible to damage from the sun's UV rays.
One study performed by the National Library of Medicine even indicated a link between estrogen and an increased immune response to fight melanoma. People with higher estrogen tend to respond better to treatment indicating a greater chance of survival.
Why do men refuse to get skin checks?
Lack of knowledge
One reason that men refuse to get skin checks is that they simply think it is not necessary. Studies have shown that men are less informed overall of their risks.
One study queried some important facts such as - 'there is no such thing as a healthy tan', 'a base tan cannot protect you from the sun' and 'skin cancer can develop on skin that only sees a little sun' - and only half of the men believed these to be true. With poorer overall knowledge, men are less likely to protect themselves from the sun and even less likely to book a skin check.
They don't want to hear bad news
Call it denial or magical thinking, but many guys avoid the doctor and hope their mole will disappear. Or, they convince themselves that symptoms are all in their head.
Medical problems don't just appear when you go to the doctor, just as they won't disappear if you avoid your check-up. When it comes to melanoma, early detection is key to successful treatment, and the longer you leave it the worse it will get.
They don't know what to expect
It's normal to be nervous about a medical appointment, whether you've got a suspicious mole or you're just sticking to your routine. However, skin checks are non-invasive, straightforward, and quick.
If you need a biopsy or further investigation, you will have plenty of notice and a quick turnaround of results, so you're not left waiting. A local skin care clinic is a great place for men to get their skin checked.
They are anxious about stripping down
We understand your concern, but we have truly seen it all. You will simply stand in front of your doctor, covered in a gown which the doctor will navigate to do your skin check while maintaining your dignity. The doctor will need to look at every inch of your skin, sometimes with a dermatoscope, but with some friendly chit chat and confident knowledge of what to look for, you will barely notice.
A lack of time
Your health is the most important thing. You won't be able to work or help at home if you become unwell, so making time to keep on top of skin checks and health check-ups should be paramount on your calendar.
If you work outside, discuss the policies around doctors' appointments with your boss, even explaining the risk you are at every day while at work. Some people prefer to take a personal day to get all their annual check-ups completed at once, scheduling it every year to give constant peace of mind.
Be Certain with Sun Doctors
The team at Sun Doctors skin cancer clinics have truly seen it all when it comes to damaged skin, skin cancer and anxious patients. Once you've booked in with us, you'll quickly wonder why you put it off for so long, and you'll love having the certainty that only a professional skin check can provide.
We are here to make skin checks simple, from our online booking system to the rapidity of your results. With multiple clinics around Australia, we will have a team near you ready to bring certainty to your skin health.
If you'd like to discuss your check-up or enquire about your upcoming appointment, simply give our team a call on 13 SKIN (13 75 46).