Women are more likely than men to survive a melanoma diagnosis regardless of the stage of the tumour at diagnosis, new research shows.
The joint study* by University of Queensland, Cancer Council Queensland and QIMR Berghofer found survival rates were higher for females for nearly all tumour stages, including both thin and thick invasive melanomas.
But the study also found the advantage was weaker for women aged under 45.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said more research was needed to understand why women’s survival rates were higher than men’s.
“Our research shows the survival differences for women aren’t just present with thick melanoma, but also stage one melanoma – the most commonly diagnosed,” Ms Clift said.
“The data indicates there may be an underlying biological mechanism, influenced by age, which exists in females from the very early stages of the disease.
“Further studies are needed to explore the role of sex hormones, and in particular the function of pregnancy, in relation to melanoma survival.”
Around 1420 Queensland women are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and 100 women die of the disease. Among men, 1990 are diagnosed and 210 die each year.
Ms Clift urged all Queenslanders to protect and check their skin to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
“Sun protection is vital for Queenslanders of all ages.
“Queenslanders should Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide when the UV Index is three or above to reduce their risk,” Ms Clift said.
“It’s also imperative that Queenslanders check their skin regularly for any changes – if skin cancer is detected early, there’s a greater chance of survival.
“If Queenslanders notice a new spot or lesion, or an existing spot or lesion change in shape, colour or size, they should visit their GP immediately.”
The study compared melanoma survival between males and females in Queensland (28,979 patients) and the United States (57,402 patients) between 1995 to 2008 by stage and age groups.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or www.cancerqld.org.au.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171
*Melanoma survival is superior in females across all tumour stages but is influenced by age, Khosrotehrani et al. 2015.