By Kelly Flanigan
Men age 50 and older are not properly heeding skin care advice, according to the findings of a study out today by Laura Ferris, M.D., a UPMC dermatologist and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Unlike other cancers where
there are specific age guidelines for diagnostic screenings, there is no age
recommendation for skin cancer
screenings. Therefore, dermatologists have
reiterated the importance of self-examinations for early signs of skin cancer
such as suspicious moles or lesions, and continued communication with their
In the study, Dr. Ferris reviewed the cases of 167 patients diagnosed with
melanoma over a five-year period and determined which groups of patients were
most likely and least likely to detect their own melanomas before being
evaluated by a dermatologist. The study found that 101 of the melanomas, or 60.5 percent, were found by
the patients but that the older a person was, the more melanomas
they missed during self-examinations. In particular, men who were 50 years or
older were more likely to be diagnosed with invasive melanoma than
women of the same age or younger participants of either gender.
“Older men are most at risk for melanoma and are most likely to die due
to a delayed diagnosis,” said Dr. Ferris. “This should be a wake-up call to men
over 50 and their loved ones. It’s vitally important that men check their skin
regularly and see a dermatologist if they notice a spot that is changing,
growing or looks unusual.”
Dr. Ferris suggests the following tips for conducting effective
- Use a mirror to examine hard-to-see places.
- Look for the ugly duckling, or the one mole that looks different from
- Pay attention to any mole that is changing or growing rapidly. Nodular
melanomas may be pink or red bumps that appear suddenly and grow. They often do
not look like a classic brown and black melanoma but are the most deadly
- If in doubt, get your mole looked at sooner rather than later. When
detected in its earliest stages, melanoma is highly curable.