Men Fall Short in Skin Cancer Knowledge and Prevention

How They Are Paying the Price

Just 51 percent of men in the U.S. reported using sunscreen in the previous 12 months and an alarming 70 percent did not know the warning signs of skin cancer, according to a Skin Cancer Foundation survey. The survey was administered online by the market research firm TNS to 1,000 male and female respondents. “The survey results confirm what I see in my practice every day — men just aren’t incorporating sun protection into their lives,” said Joshua Zeichner, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “The findings are especially concerning for men over age 50, who are more than twice as likely as women to die from melanoma.” Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is associated with the vast majority of skin cancers, making a regular sun protection regimen an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

Small Changes, Big Results

The truth is, with a few minor lifestyle adjustments, men (and women) can easily reduce their skin cancer risk to a minimum, without sacrificing time outdoors. Here’s how:

• Seek the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun is most intense. Schedule outdoor activities such as yard work, running errands, and walking the dog in early morning or late afternoon.

• Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Most skin cancers develop on skin that receives a lot of sun exposure. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts cover more skin. And while a baseball cap is better than nothing, it’s far better to wear a broad-brimmed hat (like an outback or bucket hat), which will shade the often exposed neck and tops of the shoulders as well as the face. Close-fitting, UV-blocking sunglasses help protect the eyes and surrounding areas.

• Wear a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30+. Apply one ounce 30 minutes before heading outside, and reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating heavily.

• Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. If you spot suspicious lesions, you increase your chances of detecting skin cancers at an early stage, when they are easiest to cure. Unfortunately, only 31 percent of men surveyed know how to perform skin self-exams. Why not join them? Read our self-exam guide.

• See your physician every year for a professional skin exam. Just 21 percent of the survey’s male respondents said they were likely to see a medical professional for a skin exam this year. To find a physician in your area, use our Physician Finder.

Updated on August 2, 2016