Skip to content

Men's Health

Spotting Skin Cancer

Think you're not at risk? You may be ignoring the signs.
Font Size
A
A
A

WebMD Feature

May 29, 2000 -- When 31-year-old J.T. Fields saw an odd-looking "freckle" growing on the bridge of his nose, he did what comes naturally to men: He ignored it.

J.T. was shocked when the "freckle" turned out to be skin cancer. Thankfully, it was squamous cell cancer, one of two types of non-melanoma skin cancers (the other is basal cell cancer) that have a better than 95% cure rate if detected early.

Like J.T., "most men ignore changes or symptoms in their skin when they first occur," says Christopher Arpey, MD, University of Iowa assistant professor of dermatology. "Men are much more likely [than women] to think a skin abnormality will go away on its own, even if it's itching, bleeding, or hurting."

This certainly rang true for J.T. "I thought it was a zit," he said. "Even when it bled, I thought, 'hmm -- how did I get that bruise?' " In fact, it was almost by accident that he even asked a doctor about it. J.T. went to see a dermatologist for another problem. "While I was there," he said, "I pointed to it and asked him what he thought it was." His doctor took a careful look and calmly told him it was probably skin cancer.

However calmly stated, it's a serious diagnosis. Men are much more likely than women to die from skin cancer or suffer deformities from surgery to remove it. Though men are at only a slightly higher risk of developing skin cancer than women, the real challenge is getting a diagnosis and then getting treatment earlier.

The Big Picture

More than 1.3 million Americans will get skin cancer this year. It's the most common type of cancer among men. Nearly all cases will be basal or squamous cell cancers, which affect the middle and outer layers of the skin. Fewer than 4% (about 45,000 cases) will be the more deadly melanoma, a cancer of melanocytes, the cells that produce the skin pigment called melanin. While there are other factors, such as aging and genetic vulnerability, exposure to ultraviolet rays is a major factor in all three types.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore.
man swinging in hammock
And how to get out it.
 
shaving tools
On your shaving skills.
muscular man flexing
Four facts that matter.
 
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Slideshow
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Quiz
 
Man taking blood pressure
Slideshow
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Condom Quiz
Quiz
thumbnail_angry_couple_in_bed
Slideshow
 
man running
Quiz
older couple in bed
Video