Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Melanoma Detection: Waiting Is Risky for Men

Have a Doctor Check Out Suspicious Moles While They Are Small, Easier to Treat
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 20, 2009 -- Melanomas detected in older men by a doctor are more likely to be treatable, according to a new study. But many men may be waiting too long before seeing a doctor about suspicious moles.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. But less than a third of melanomas are first detected by doctors. Most of the irregularly shaped moles are discovered by a spouse, friend, or the patient.

A new survey shows doctors are more likely to detect melanomas in their early stages when they are thin and more susceptible to treatment.

But middle-aged men may be playing a dangerous game by waiting to have suspicious moles checked out by a doctor. A second analysis of the same survey shows physician detection of melanomas is most common among men over 65, men with a history of atypical moles, or men with cancers in areas they can’t see, like their backs.

Researchers say the results may help explain why the death rate for melanomas is steadily rising among middle-aged and older men and decreasing among women in the same age group. White men over 50 make up nearly 50% of all melanoma deaths in the U.S.

“A growing body of sex-specific studies shows a trend among men, especially white middle-class men, of delaying seeking help when they become ill,” write June Robinson, MD, of Northwestern University and colleagues in an editorial that accompanies the studies in the Archives of Dermatology. "By delaying seeking care, men present at a later stage of melanoma, when it is no longer treatable.”

Melanoma Awareness Key to Early Detection

For the survey, 227 men 40 and over diagnosed with melanoma between 2004 and 2006 answered questions about melanoma detection and awareness within three months of diagnosis.

In the first study, researchers analyzed information about the thickness of the melanoma at the time of diagnosis. Tumor thickness is strongly related to the success of melanoma treatment, and thinner melanomas in their early stages are more susceptible to treatment.

Researchers found that 25% of the men had melanomas that were thicker than 2 millimeters. Men with thinner, easier-to-treat melanomas were more likely to have had the melanoma detected by a doctor, previous knowledge of skin cancer and melanoma, a high school education, or a history of atypical moles.

Today on WebMD

Malignant melanoma
About 40-50 percent of those who live to be 65 may get it. Here’s how to spot early.
Woman checking out tan lines
There’s a dark side to that strive for beauty. See them here.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
12 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Melanoma
precancerous lesions slideshow
Do You Know Your Melanoma ABCs
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
screening tests for men
Vitamin D
Is That Mole Skin Cancer
Brilliant sun rays