Hey Guys, Check Your Skin

Melanoma signs go unnoticed by many older men

(RxWiki News) Men aged 50 years and older haven’t been checking themselves for signs of skin cancer, according to recent studies. Early detection of skin cancer is essential for nipping it in the bud.

The American Academy of Dermatology has released a recommendation that men aged 50 and older should frequently check their bodies for signs of skin cancer and visit a dermatologist for any issues.

These recommendations were based on three studies involving melanoma. The authors warned people against using smartphone applications in place of a visit to a board-certified dermatologist.

Tests have shown that smartphone applications missed at least 30 percent of clinically diagnosed cases of melanoma.

"Regularly check your skin for any changes."

Based on research compiled by Laura K. Ferris, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and board-certified dermatologist, the American Academy of Dermatology urges men to look for skin cancer symptoms.

Skin cancers, including the deadliest form—melanoma—can present in people at any age. But the risk for developing skin cancer is much more common in men and women aged 50 and older.

“Older men are most at risk for melanoma and are most likely to die due to a delayed diagnosis,” said Dr. Ferris. 

“This should be a wakeup call to men over 50 and their loved ones. It’s vitally important that men check their skin regularly and see a board-certified dermatologist if they notice a spot that is changing, growing or looks unusual,” she continued.

In three skin cancer studies, Dr. Ferris and fellow researchers investigated people’s behavior around skin cancer screening.

In one study, 167 patients were diagnosed with melanoma over the course of five years. The majority, or 61 percent, of the group detected a suspicious skin change and went to a dermatologist for diagnosis.

Researchers found that the other 39 percent of the group were more likely to be male, 50 years of age or older and had more developed cases of melanoma.

In another study, researchers looked at 478 people who visited a dermatologist. Of men aged 50 and over, 65 percent went to the dermatologist specifically because they had been previously diagnosed with skin cancer.

When compared to the other people in the study, men aged 50 and older were half as likely to visit a dermatologist because of a suspicious skin spot.

In the final study, Dr. Ferris’s team tested the accuracy of smartphone applications that claim the ability to diagnose skin cancer. The researchers found the smartphone applications rated at least 30 percent of clinically diagnosed melanomas as “unconcerning.”

Dr. Ferris recommended that people, especially men 50 years of age and older, do frequent self-examinations.

To do a self-examination, stand in front of a large mirror and hold a smaller mirror to check skin for any changes, especially growth, in individual moles. Note that melanoma may be different colors: black, brown, pink or red.

Dr. Ferris recommended immediately scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist if any skin or mole changes were found. Melanoma is curable in its early stages, but quite lethal once it has spread to vital organs.

These recommendations were published in March on the American Academy of Dermatology website.

Review Date: 
March 6, 2013