Melanoma impact greater for women

March 2, 2011

Recently published survey results suggest that women are more likely than men to feel their quality of life has been affected by melanoma - even as long as a decade after diagnosis, MedPage Today reports.

Rotterdam, Netherlands - Recently published survey results suggest that women are more likely than men to feel their quality of life has been affected by melanoma - even as long as a decade after diagnosis, MedPage Today reports.

Researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam conducted a survey of 699 patients diagnosed with melanoma between January 1998 and August 2007. Slightly more than 80 percent - or 562 - of the patients responded to the 36-item short-form health survey and an Impact of Cancer questionnaire, as well as to several melanoma-related questions. Patients’ responses on the short-form survey were compared with those of an age- and sex-matched sample of 1,742 adults in the general population.

Results of a multivariate analysis of responses showed that:

• Female patients were more likely than men to have lower scores on the physical and mental scales of the short-form survey.
• On the Impact of Cancer scale, women were more likely than men to report positive aspects of the disease (increased spirituality, for example) but also more likely to report negative aspects (such as negative impact on family life).
• Higher stages of cancer at diagnosis (compared with stage 1) were associated with worse perceived physical quality of life on the short-form survey and higher negative scores on the Impact of Cancer scale.
• Having a marital partner was associated with significantly improved mental health quality on the short-form survey.
• Comorbidities were significantly associated with worse physical and mental health quality on the short-form survey and with higher negative scores on the Impact of Cancer scale.

Sixty-seven percent of the women said they had adjusted their behavior to avoid sun exposure, compared with 54 percent of the men. Also, 66 percent of female respondents said they worried about the effects of UV radiation, compared with 45 percent of men.

The survey results appear in the February issue of Archives of Dermatology.