Men's skin cancer death rates double in last 30 years

Cancer Research UK

The rates of men dying from malignant melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – have doubled in the last 30 years, according to the latest Cancer Research UK figures published today.

In the late 70s fewer than 400 (1.5 per 100,000) men died from melanoma but now more than 1100 (3.1 per 100,000) men are dying from the disease1.

Experts are concerned because this sharp rise in death rates from malignant melanoma is due to so many more men developing what is largely a preventable disease.

The figures also reveal that death rates in men over 65 have risen shockingly from 4.5 per 100,000 to 15.2 per 100,000 since the late 70s.

More women are diagnosed2 with malignant melanoma but more men are dying from it and in comparison death rates for women have risen more slowly from 1.5 per 100,000 to 2.2 per 100,000 since the late 1970s.

Male malignant melanoma incidence rates are now more than 5 times higher than they were 30 years ago – rising from 2.7 per 100,000 to 14.6 per 100,0003.

Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart programme provides evidence-based information about skin cancer and sun protection to help people enjoy the sun safely and avoid sunburn.

Caroline Cerny, Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart manager, said: "These figures show that a worryingly high number of men are dying unnecessarily from malignant melanoma because of the rapidly rising numbers diagnosed with the disease. Preventing the disease developing in the first place will help stop this trend and save lives

"To curb this huge rise in deaths from malignant melanoma it's more important than ever that people are aware of the dangers of too much sun. Too often men leave it up to their partners or mothers to remind them to use sunscreen or cover up with a shirt and hat and even to visit the doctor about a worrying mole.

“And even though more women are diagnosed with the disease, more men die from it. This suggests that men are either not aware of skin cancer symptoms or are ignoring them and putting off going to see their GP. It’s crucial that people go to their doctor as soon as they notice any unusual changes to their skin or moles – the earlier the cancer is diagnosed the easier it will be to treat.”

Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow said: "The rise in skin cancer deaths among men is worrying and highlights how important it is for everyone to protect themselves from overexposure to sun. Seeing many people with sunburn from the recent sunny weather is a reminder of how easy it is to damage your skin.

"We should all keep a careful eye on our skin. Shrugging off any changes in a mole’s appearance could put your life at risk. Always see your GP as soon as possible if you have concerns. When skin cancer is caught early treatment is more likely to be successful, and fast action could stop the significant rise we've seen in the number of deaths."

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact the press office on 020 7061 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.

Notes to Editor

  1. UK, 1979 to 2008
  2. In the UK in 2007 5697 women are diagnosed with malignant melanoma compared to 4975 men.
  3. Great Britain, 1978 to 2007
  • Female incidence rates have also increased but by less, rising from 4.5 per 100,000 to 15.4 per 100,000 over the same period.
  • From 1978 to 2007 overall malignant melanoma incidence rates have more than quadrupled – rising from 3.4 people per 100,000 to 14.7 per 100,000