Three Queensland men aged over 50 years die every week from melanoma, according to QUT researchers who have embarked on a life-saving mission to teach men better skin care.
Dr Monika Janda of Queensland University of Technology’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation said the tragic statistic had prompted a study with researchers from the Queensland Cancer Fund to find key messages for men about melanoma and the need to regularly check their skin.
She said 162 men aged over 50 died in Queensland from melanoma in 2003 while 81 women from all age groups died.
“Men over 50 are twice as likely as women to die from melanoma than women,” Dr Janda said.
“And we think it might be because they are less likely to check their skin and detect a melanoma early.”
Dr Janda is using an early career research grant to make a video targeted at men over 50 to educate them on the need to check their skin and what to look for.
She is seeking male volunteers over 50 years for a 60-minute group discussion on how best to frame the message to men that they must check their skin regularly and see a doctor the moment they notice anything unusual.
“There may be two pathways for men to get melanoma,” she said.
“Chronic exposure to the sun seems to be one pathway to melanoma and it occurs mainly on the head and neck.
“These melanomas are associated with solar keratosis, the rough, benign skin lesions that indicate excessive sun exposure.
“A second type may form from moles that can be present at birth. This type may be associated with intermittent over exposure to the sun such as at weekends.
“This means white-collar workers are not immune to risk,” Dr Janda said.
She said that if melanoma was caught and treated before it was more than 1mm deep, a person had a high chance of survival because in most cases it would not have spread to other parts of the body.