Men's aversion to sunscreen adding to melanoma rate

The feminine connotations of skin care and sun protection are partly to blame for rising rates of skin cancer in men, according to a Cancer Council spokesman.

Melanoma of the skin affects 57.2 men out of every 100,000 Australians, more than twice the incidence rate reported in 1982, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Cancer Council Australia spokesman Terry Slevin said there was no known reason for the higher skin cancer rates among men besides traditional male tendencies towards increased sun exposure without protection.

''Blokes are less likely to use sunscreen, as they're less likely to use products they put on their skin,'' he said.

''Women's magazines are always telling their readership about UV exposure and the ageing effects. Men either don't know or aren't influenced by it.''

Mr Slevin said the increasing uptake of the ''metrosexual trend'' and health magazines for men were helping to change male perspectives on skin care, as well as the introduction of specialty men's sunscreen to the market.

But he stressed that concrete changes were also needed and issues such as occupational health and safety needed to be readdressed to ensure better sun protection for outdoors workers, the majority of which are men.

Incidence rates for melanoma in Australian women have also risen since 1982 and it now affects 38.2 women out of 100,000.

But Mr Slevin said the rates were expected to plateau and decline within a decade as people exposed to initial skin cancer campaigns in their teens reached the typical diagnosis age of over 45 years.

''The campaigns we run now don't have an immediate effect. You don't change a culture overnight.''

Canberrans have one of the highest fatality rates for melanoma cases in the country.

The total number of melanoma cases reported in the ACT between 2003 and 2007 was 658 and the total number of deaths was 95, the second highest fatality rate in the country behind Queensland on 7 per cent.

This reporter is on Twitter: @stephanieando