Men and Skin Protection

With the waning weeks of summer, this is the time that we’re hitting the pools and beaches strong, trying to catch the last vestiges of the sun. But men, listen up: you don’t worry enough about your skin, according to the latest research. It's almost like you have to whack it into the brains of men--that they are susceptible, just like everyone else, to skin cancer. Take Todd Bernstein for example. “The first marking actually started with my regular Dr. he saw a mark and said this should be removed, of course I didn’t do anything about it until two years later,” says Todd. Todd’s back at the doctor's office today, to get his stitches removed following the excision of five highly suspicious--in fact, near borderline-- malignant moles. And he still hasn’t learned! “I do put on the sunscreen, my skin, my body, but I’m always in a rush uh especially when I’m outdoors playing golf so I do the basics, but you know it is nice to be in the sun; it feels good,” states Todd, an avid golfer. Rates of melanomas have increased almost 15-fold over the last 50 years. And that increase has been observed disproportionally in men over 50. The problem: men don’t get screened.

Dr, Ellen Marmur of Your Health Now, says, “Men are in serious denial about their skin, absolutely. They go off and play golf and tennis all the time without sunscreen on, but once someone close to them has a skin cancer or something scary, that’s their biggest motivation.”

In fact, the latest research in the journal Cancer shows that men who had skin lesions removed previously, who were concerned about a mole, or who had identified personal risk factors for melanoma were more likely to undergo a whole body skin exam. “Under the age of 40, I’d say 95% of my patients for a skin screening are women and only 5% are men, it’s striking,” Dr. Marmur adds.

But the study also reveals that men, especially those over 50 years old are more motivated to seek screening if they are made aware of the risk factors through public education. “Men come into the office in their 60’s when they’ve already had a skin cancer and then they are actually diligent about their skin cancer screening,” says Marmur.

So when I have a man in their twenties come in and say I have a couple moles I’m here for a skin exam, I applaud them.” Dr. Marmur says she teaches her patients how to do a self check skin exam. Everyone, she says, should go annually to the dermatologist, and learn how to do a self exam, which is easy.

As for Todd, at least he’s coming to the doctor for follow-ups--but he still loves the sun. “Eventually I will wizen up and be the more responsible person,” says Todd. Maybe…when he’s over 50 like the men in the study. Or maybe not.


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