Melanoma in men is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It occurs when pigment-making cells in the skin, called melanocytes, begin to reproduce uncontrollably. Melanoma can form from an existing mole or develop on unblemished skin. The most common type of melanoma spreads on the skin’s surface. It is called superficial spreading melanoma. It may stay on the surface or grow down into deeper tissues. Other types of melanoma can start anywhere on or inside the body, including under fingernails or toenails and inside the eye.
Melanoma rarely occurs before age 18. However, the risk of melanoma in men rises rapidly in young adulthood, making it one of the most common life-threatening forms of cancer in people between the ages of 20 and 50. After age 50, the risk of melanoma rises more slowly with advancing age.
Men have a higher risk of developing this cancer than women. It has been suggested that social issues underlie this gender difference because, previously, men tended to work outdoors more than women, and thus received more exposure to the sun. Men are also less likely to visit a doctor and get suspicious-looking skin lesions examined. However, even when these and other similar factors are accounted for, men with melanoma still have poorer outcomes than their female counterparts i.e. something else must be happening as well.