Older men whose melanoma is detected by a physician are more likely to have thinner and therefore more treatable tumors at diagnosis, according to results of a survey published in the April issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
A second analysis of the same survey data finds that physician detection of thin melanoma is more common in those who are 65 or older, have cancers on their backs or who have a history of atypical moles.
Melanoma is becoming more common and mortality rates from melanoma are steadily increasing among older men, according to background information in one of the articles.
Tumor thickness at diagnosis strongly predicts the management and outcomes of melanoma, and the thickest tumors (4 millimeters or thicker) are increasingly common in white men age 60 and older.
“Rigorous assessment of behavioral, social and medical access factors that differ between men 40 years or older with thinner vs. thicker melanomas may identify potential modifiable variables,” the authors write. “A clearer understanding of these factors provides fundamental knowledge for additional studies and public health messages aimed at earlier melanoma detection in this high-risk subset of men.”
In one study, Susan M. Swetter, M.D., of Stanford University Medical Center, Calif., and colleagues surveyed 227 men age 40 and older between 2004 and 2006, within three months of their melanoma diagnosis.
Men with thinner melanomas were more likely to have previous knowledge of melanoma, have paid attention to skin cancer detection information, be interested in health topics and be aware of the importance of physician skin examination.
“Public education, in particular targeting less-educated, middle-aged and older men for improved self-examination and physician skin surveillance, should become an integral component of skin cancer risk reduction strategies promoted by cancer advocacy organizations”, the authors write.
“Skin screenings of at-risk middle-aged and older American men can be integrated into the routine physical examination, with particular emphasis on hard-to-see areas, such as the back of the body,” the authors conclude. “‘Watch your back’ professional education campaigns should be promoted by skin cancer advocacy organizations and should incorporate the importance of physician screening and the benefit of spouse or partner assistance for early detection of melanoma, particularly in the high-risk population of middle-aged and older men.”
Source: Archives of Dermatology, USA