Skin cancer death rates for men in the UK have tripled in the last 50 years

Research published by Cancer Research UK in July has revealed a worrying trend over the last 50 years in which 69% of men are more likely to die from melanoma than women.  The cancer charity warns that a lack of sun protection is a factor.

Death rates from melanoma – the most serious type of skin cancer – have risen by 219% in men, since 1973, compared to an increase of 76% in women.2 Researchers found that this means that 1,400 men in the UK are dying from melanoma skin cancer every year compared to 980 women,  which equates to six people dying per day.  The researchers also considered age differences and found that men are 69% more likely to die from skin cancer than women. 

Typically, men’s skin cancers are often found on their torso (see the image below) which Cancer Research UK has suggested could be explained by the fact that men are more likely to go shirtless in the summer months. And while death rates from melanoma have decreased by 9% for women in the last decade, things have not yet improved for men.

 Skin Cancer Risk per Gender

A recent survey from Cancer Research UK and cosmetics company, NIVEA SUN3 surveyed 2,000 UK men in April this year and found that fewer than 25% of men always use sun protection, despite 84% knowing the risks of skin cancer from sunburn. The reasons given were that 25% of men did not think the sunlight was strong enough to need sun protection. A further 23% also stated that they didn’t really think about it.

Choosing the right sunscreen and understanding UVA protection

  • Choose a high SPF. Most fair-skinned people will need SPF 30 or higher to stop them from burning in the summertime.
  • Choose a sunscreen product with a superior UVA 4-5 star-rated protection symbol.
  • Never rely on sunscreen alone to protect your skin.

Below is a guide to help you understand UVA protection.

UVA Protection graphic

Application of sunscreen – common mistakes

The biggest problem with sunscreen is that it is not always applied correctly to the skin before sun exposure. Many people:

  • Apply too little sunscreen at about one-third of the thickness needed to provide adequate protection4. Applying sunscreen too thinly will reduce the Sun Protection Factor (SPF).
  • Fail to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of the skin.
  • Forget to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours or after heavy sweating or swimming.

How to correctly apply sunscreen

  • Apply your SPF 30+ sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and always reapply at least every two hours.
  • It is important to use a generous amount: the average-sized adult should apply at least a teaspoon of sunscreen to each arm, leg, front and back of body and at least half a teaspoon to the face (not forgetting the ears and neck).

Over 80% of all skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or sunbeds which means that most skin cancers are preventable by undertaking simple sun safety measures.

If you are worried about skin cancer, Check4Cancer offers SkinCheck, a skin cancer screening service for anyone aged 18+ who would like the appearance of their skin or moles checked by a skin cancer specialist. Early detection saves lives, book your skin cancer test online today.


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