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J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2019 Jun 27. doi: 10.1111/jdv.15760. [Epub ahead of print]

Sex matters: men with melanoma have a worse prognosis than women.

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Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Department of Surgery, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Department of Pathology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organization (IKNL), Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Department of Dermatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.



In Europe, one of the highest melanoma incidences is found in the Netherlands. Like in several other European countries, females are more prone to develop melanoma as compared to males, although survival is worse for men.


To identify clinicopathological gender-related differences that may lead to gender-specific preventive measures.


Data from the Dutch Nationwide Network and Registry of Histopathology and Cytopathology (PALGA) were retrieved from patients with primary, cutaneous melanoma in the Netherlands between 2000 and 2014. Patients initially presenting as stage I, II and III without clinically detectable nodal disease were included. Follow-up data were retrieved from the Netherlands Cancer Registry. Gender-related differences were assessed, and to compare relative survival between males and females, multivariable relative excess risks (RER) were calculated.


A total of 54.645 patients were included (43.7% men). In 2000, 41.7% of the cohort was male, as compared to 47.3% in 2014 (P < 0.001). Likewise, in 2000, 51.5% of the deceased cohort was male compared to 60.1% in 2014 (P < 0.001). Men had significantly thicker melanomas at the time of diagnosis [median Breslow thickness 1.00 mm (interquartile range (IQR): 0.60-2.00) vs. 0.82 mm (IQR: 0.50-1.50) for females] and were significantly older at the time of diagnosis, more often had ulcerated melanomas and melanomas localized on the trunk or head and neck. Over time, survival for females improved while that of men decreased (P < 0.001). RER for dying was 1.37 (95% CI: 1.31-1.45) for men in multivariable analysis.


There are evident clinicopathological differences between male and female melanoma patients. After multivariable correction for all these differences, relative survival remains worse for men. Clinicians as well as persons at risk for melanoma should be aware of these differences, as awareness and prevention might lead to a lower incidence and mortality of melanoma. This indicates the need of prevention campaigns integrating and targeting specific risk profiles.


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