All things equal, single men living alone are more likely to lose their battle with skin cancer than their married and/or cohabiting counterparts — that according to a new study published in the Swedish Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute compiled and analyzed all health statistics related to cutaneous malignant melanomas — one the most aggressive forms of skins cancer — diagnosed in Sweden between 1990 and 2007.
After accounting for a number of factors that can affect prognosis, including certain characteristics and the location of the tumor, researchers found that the mortality rate was higher for male patients living alone.
“We were able to show that living alone among men is significantly associated with a reduced melanoma-specific survival, partially attributed to a more advanced stage at diagnosis,” explained lead researcher Hanna Eriksson, an oncologist at Karolinska University Hospital. “Our study shows that this applies to men of all ages, regardless of their level of education and place of residence.”
Part of the reason men living alone are less successful at fighting the disease, is that they tend to catch the tumor later than patients with partners — an extra pair of eyes, or that extra pressure to “go see the doctor” and get a mole checked out, may make a difference.
When caught early, before cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body, cutaneous malignant melanoma patients have a 90 percent survival rate. Caught later, survival rates plummet. That’s why early detection is key.
“This points to a need for targeted interventions for earlier detection of cutaneous malignant melanoma in men and older individuals since this is critical for surviving the disease,” Eriksson said. “By way of example, procedures are needed for skin examinations of these patients in connection with other doctor visits or check-ups.”