Young men more likely to die of skin cancer than women

New York: Young men are 55 percent more likely to die of skin cancer than women, regardless of the severity of the tumour, a new study has found.

The finding suggests there are fundamental biological differences between melanoma in men and women.

Looking at melanoma cases among a population of young, white men and women over 20 years, the researchers found that men accounted for 40 per cent of the cancer cases, and 64 per cent of the deaths, `LiveScience` reported.

Overall, men were 55 per cent more likely to die of melanoma than women of the same age, after adjusting for other factors such as a tumour`s type, thickness and location, researchers said.

Experts said that the study revealed a "striking disparity" between men and women in terms of survival.

"The findings are so consistent that they imply a fundamental biological difference in `male` versus `female` melanoma," said editorial authors Dr David Fisher, a dermatologist at Harvard Medical School and Alan Geller, a lecturer at Harvard School of Public Health.

"We thought that it would be novel and interesting to look at a younger population. Younger people don`t tend to see a doctor as frequently," said study researcher Dr Susan Swetter, a professor of dermatology at Stanford University.

Researchers included about 26,000 white adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39, who were diagnosed with melanoma between 1989 and 2009. White people are far more likely to develop melanoma than those of other races.

During the study period, 1,561 patients died from melanoma. Men were more likely to die in each category of the tumor, and each age group, the study showed.

Among patients who had an additional cancer besides melanoma, men were twice as likely to die.

Women`s survival advantage may be due to habits such as better health maintenance or more visits to the doctor, which helps detect tumours when they are smaller and more curable, researchers said.

However, among those who had the thinnest tumours, men were still twice as likely to die, which suggests that men`s disadvantage is due to biological differences rather than behavioural ones, they said.