Malignant melanoma and men’s health: The unspoken link

The incidence of melanoma diagnosis in Australia has increased over three-fold in the last three decades, now accounting for 10.2% of all new cancer diagnoses in 2016.1 It is estimated that Australian men are more likely to die from malignant melanoma compared to females at a ratio of 2.3:1. 1
We present a case example of a 42 year-old male with a 14x11cm biopsy-proven malignant melanoma on his right thigh for 12 years prior to presentation. He had an 18-month period of rapid disease progression with the development of facial dyspigmentation, widespread inguinal and cervical lymphadenopathy. Examination revealed pigmented dermal deposits proximal to the lesion at the right groin, axilla and elbow.
A growing body of evidence has identified the link between male gender and delayed presentation of malignant melanoma.2-3 A review into the literature was performed to identify:
1. The factors driving the behavioural process that results protracted periods between identification of a suspicious lesion and seeking of medical attention
2. Potential areas of improvement for public health initiatives targeting melanoma
3. Lessons learnt from effective Australian campaigns addressing men’s health with relation to other oncological conditions such as prostate and testicular cancer
In 2013, the age standardised mortality rate of Australian men from malignant melanoma was 9.2 compared to 3.7 in females. 1 This gender disparity can’t be ignored and is certainly a call for greater understanding on the patterns of help-seeking behaviour in men, development of effective awareness campaigns and education regarding prompt access to treatment for melanoma skin cancer.
1. Melanoma skin cancer (AIHW). 2016 [cited 17 November 2016]. Available from:
2. Richard MA, Grob JJ, Avril MF, et al. Delays in diagnosis and melanoma prognosis (I): the role of patients. Int J Cancer. 2000; 89: 271-9.
3. Blum A, Brand CU, Ellwanger U, et al. Awareness and early detection of cutaneous melanoma: an analysis of factors related to delay in treatment. British Journal of Dermatology. 1999; 141: 783-7.
4. Brochez L, Verhaeghe E, Bleyen L, et al. Time delays and related factors in the diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma. European Journal of Cancer. 2001; 37: 843-8.

Dr. Justin Bui

Department of Dermatology, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Murdoch, Western Australia

Justin is the dermatology resident at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Western Australia. He also the Chair of the Postgraduate Medical Council of Western Australia JMO Forum and recipient of the 2016 Junior Doctor of the Year Award for outstanding contribution to prevocational medical education