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Surviving Melanoma May Take Different Toll on Women, Men
Date:2/22/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The experience of surviving a melanoma may weigh more heavily on the emotional lives of women than men, a new study suggests.

"In clinical practice, this observation may imply that women need additional care, including follow-up and possibly counseling to optimally cope with their melanoma," the authors, led by Dr. Cynthia Holterhues of the department of dermatology at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, noted in a news release.

In some respects, however, the study found that female melanoma survivors often took a more positive attitude compared to males.

For example, while female patients were more likely to say that melanoma and the side effects of treatment interfered with their quality of life, they were also more prone to say that the experience had left them wiser and more spiritual.

Women who beat a melanoma were also more likely than their male counterparts to go on to protect themselves and their families from harmful UV radiation, the study found.

"Men might be less aware of general measures of sun protection and need education about these measures after treatment," the authors noted.

The study is published in the February issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, melanoma is the most lethal of all skin cancers. However, the disease is curable if caught early enough, before it has spread to the lymph nodes and other tissues and organs.

According to the study authors, that means that 80 percent of melanoma patients face a "relatively good" prognosis. But there's one caveat: all melanoma survivors will face a lifetime risk for disease recurrence.

With that in mind, the research team decided to conduct a survey of more than 560 Dutch melanoma survivors to explore their behaviors, attitudes and overall quality of life.

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