Chalk it up to stubborn nature or a brush-off of Mother Nature, but most men’s refusal to wear sunscreen, even when they’re spending long hours outdoors, could be why their rate of developing, and dying from, skin cancer is higher than women’s.
People of any race can develop melanoma, but it is far more common among non-Hispanic whites, with more than 9 of out 10 cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Between 2008 and 2012 in an eight-parish Acadiana area, the incidence rate for melanoma was 21.4 per 100 people for white men compared to 10.7 for white women, according to the most recent data from the Louisiana Tumor Registry.
During the same time frame, the melanoma death rate among white men in those parishes — Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion — was also higher, at 3.6 compared to 1.6 for white women.
The statistics could be attributed to a few factors, said Dr. Kristy Kennedy, a Lafayette dermatologist.
“Males are less likely to apply sunscreen compared to females, who are used to wearing moisturizers, make-up and other products on their skin,” Kennedy said. “Men are most unlikely to wear sunscreen to protect their skin and less likely to get suspicious spots on their skin checked.”
Early detection can prevent a condition from developing into skin cancer, making events like a free skin cancer screening planned for Saturday an opportunity for folks who may not have time for a doctor visit to get checked, Kennedy said.
She and other local dermatologists will volunteer their time for the event, which is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic, 1317 Jefferson St.
The free event, now in its fourth year, is organized as a partnership by the American Academy of Dermatology and the Acadiana Healthy Communities Coalition.
Kennedy stresses the importance of early detection.
“There are some stages of sun damage, if caught early enough, that can be prevented from turning into a skin cancer,” Kennedy said. “But if those aren’t recognized in the early stage, then you could end up in trouble down the line.”
Saturday’s screening is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis and there are no eligibility requirements to attend, said Camille Breaux of the Acadiana chapter of the American Cancer Society.
While no appointments are necessary, those interested in the screening are asked to RSVP by Thursday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants will also receive information and resources for follow-up care, if needed, Breaux said.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.