Women With Melanoma Have a 30% Higher Survival Rate And Lower Recurrence Than Men

In a study published in the current edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers found that among people  with melanoma—one of the deadliest cancers—women have significantly higher survival rates as well as far lower rates of metastasis (spreading to other organs) and recurrence than men. According to Dr. Vernon Sondak, chair of the department of cutaneous oncology at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, of the 70,000+ Americans who were diagnosed with invasive melanoma in 2011, 43 percent were women. But of the 8,800 melanoma-related deaths that year, only 35 percent were women.
So what is it that’s protecting women? Apparently there’s just something about being female that helps. The tumors start out the same in men and women, but according to Dr. Arjen Joosse (from the department of public health at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands), there’s “something gender-related that causes the cancer to unfold in a more deadly way in men.”
Unfortunately, Joosse and his team aren’t sure what, exactly, that is. Their first guess was that it has something to do with estrogen, but later his team determined that hormones didn’t seem to have much effect on the disease.
Some researchers, though, believe that a major culprit here is behavior. “[M]ost of us feel that a big part of this has to do with the fact that women are a little more likely to be paying attention to their skin and to notice something on their skin, and most importantly, to do something about it right away,” wrote Dr. Sondak. “And with melanoma, early detection is key.”

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