Worldwide mortality rates for melanoma – the most serious type of skin cancer – have seen a steep increase in men since 1985, with women's mortality rates rising more slowly or even declining, according to researchers, including an Indian origin .
It could be because men are less likely to be protected from sunlight or engage in awareness and prevention campaigns for melanoma, researchers note.
"The main risk factor for melanoma is excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation, either by exposure to the sun or by using sunbeds," said Dorothy Yang, a junior doctor at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, the United Kingdom.
"Despite public health efforts to promote melanoma awareness and encourage intelligent sun behavior, the incidence of melanoma is increasing in recent decades," Yang added.
The results were presented at the NCRI Conference on Cancer in Glasgow.
For the study, the group studied mortality rates in 33 countries between 1985 and 2015, taking into account the aging population and other less populous countries.
Overall, the highest mortality rates over the three-year period from 2013 to 2015 were found in Australia (5.72 per 100,000 men and 2.53 per 100,000 in women) and Slovenia (3.86 in men and 2.58 in women), with the lowest in Japan and 0.18 for women).
However, the Czech Republic was the only country where the group found a reduction in male melanoma mortality rate, where the annual percentage reduction was 0.7% between 1985 and 2015.
In addition, Israel and the Czech Republic experienced the largest reduction in mortality rates among women, – 23.4% and 15.5%, respectively.
"This research shows that melanoma mortality rates are stabilizing or declining in some countries, especially for women, but in almost all countries there has been an increase in death rates over the last 30 years for men," said Poulam Patel, professor at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.
However, more research is needed to understand the reason for this trend, but in the meantime more public health efforts may be needed for men to raise awareness of disease and smart behaviors from the sun.