Dr. Victoria Sharon, MD, is a board certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon. She is currently an assistant professor at Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the director of dermatologic surgery and dermato-oncology at Northwell Health.
Many people are surprised to learn that rates of skin cancer are higher in men than in women. This is true not just for basal cell carcinoma, which is the most common type of skin cancer in the United States, but also for melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the more serious types of skin cancer that have the potential to be fatal.
As a dermatologic surgeon who routinely diagnoses and treats skin cancer, these statistics aren’t surprising to me at all. I often see men who tell me that they spend a lot of time in the sun—either because of their jobs or because they just enjoy being outside—but aren’t diligent about sun protection. Others will tell me that they’re good about using sunscreen now, but they admit that they spent many years out in the sun without it.
And believe it or not, even men who have already been diagnosed with skin cancer aren’t necessarily using their diagnosis as a “wake up call” to be better about sun protection. One recent study found that among men and women who had been diagnosed with melanoma, the women were much more likely than the men to take steps to prevent additional skin cancers, such as wearing sun protective clothing, limiting their outdoor activities and examining their skin more frequently. That finding is especially concerning because once you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, you’re at a much higher risk of developing another skin cancer within five to 10 years.
So what should men do to protect themselves from skin cancer? These four steps are key: