A Swedish study has found that men living alone have a higher risk of dying from malignant melanoma, possibly due to less access to skin examinations.
Writing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers from the Karolinska Institutet and Linköping University examined the risk of dying in over 27,000 melanoma patients in relation to whether they lived alone or with other people at the time of their cancer diagnosis. They adjusted for other factors such a cancer grade and education level.
"We were able to show that living alone among men is significantly associated with a reduced melanoma-specific survival, partially attributed to a more advanced stage at diagnosis. Our study shows that this applies to men of all ages, regardless of their level of education and place of residence," explains Hanna Eriksson, PhD at the Department of Oncology-Pathology.
It was also found cancers were diagnosed at a more advanced stage in older women living alone, though there was no effect on later prognosis.
"This points to a need for targeted interventions for earlier detection of cutaneous malignant melanoma in men and older individuals since this is critical for surviving the disease. By way of example, procedures are needed for skin examinations of these patients in connection with other doctor visits or check-ups," says Hanna Eriksson.
The researchers felt one reason for the findings may be lower access to skin examinations in people living alone.
This study highlights the ongoing need for monitoring skin changes and seeking medical care early. Long term survival for thin cutaneous malignant melanoma that is detected early is over 90 percent.
 Later Stage at Diagnosis and Worse Survival in Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma Among Men Living Alone: A Nationwide Population-Based Study From Sweden, Hanna Eriksson, Johan Lyth, Eva Månsson-Brahme, Margareta Frohm-Nilsson, Christian Ingvar, Christer Lindholm, Peter Naredi, Ulrika Stierner, John Carstensen and Johan Hansson, Journal of Clinical Oncology, DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2013.52.7564, published 31 March 2014.
 Medical News Today, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/274911.php