Norway among the world's top in mortality
This is essentially a paradox, with our short summers and relatively few sunny days. But this is probably what also makes us extra sun-hungry. Many in Norway have a desire to get a tan, and have few days to do so. We take advantage of the opportunity when it's there, both here at home, when traveling – and often get sunburned.
Why is the mortality rate so high?
When we compare patients in Norway with other countries, with similar fair-skinned populations and a high incidence of melanoma, we find that we have thicker tumours and more serious disease at diagnosis. This indicates that we are not attentive enough.
In addition, we have a greater proportion of the most aggressive type of melanoma, the one we call nodular melanoma. These grow quickly and do not necessarily have the usual characteristics such as dark color and uneven shape. Several of these may also contribute to higher mortality. It is important to detect melanoma at an early stage because it is easier to treat and usually has good survival.
Why is mortality from melanoma among men in Norway higher than in the other Nordic countries?
One is that the prevalence has been and is higher for Norwegian men, which also results in higher mortality. The second is to detect the disease early, where it may appear that they are more attentive than us in the other Nordic countries.
We therefore have a responsibility to increase knowledge about what melanoma is, and about what to look for, especially in the male part of the population and especially the oldest (>60 years).
Why do more men than women die of melanoma?
This is about much the same thing, that men have significantly higher incidence, especially the oldest, and that men have thicker tumours and more serious disease. This may indicate that women pay better attention to their own skin and are more aware of symptoms.
Men have a little to learn from women when it comes to taking care of their skin. One is what to do to reduce the risk of contracting the disease – to protect yourself from the strongest sun and not get burned, by using shade, clothing and sunscreen. The second is to be aware of skin changes and warning signs. Women are generally better at both areas.
Sun-smart advice reduces the risk of skin cancer
- Limit time in strong sun
The sun is strongest in summer and in the hours of midday.
- Seek shade
Reflection from water, sand and snow makes the sun's rays more intense, even in the shade.
- Wear clothes, something on your head and sunglasses
The clothes should cover as much skin as possible. A hat with a wide brim protects both the face, ears and neck.
- Use plenty of sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher.
Sunscreen alone does not provide enough protection, and should be used with, not instead of, shade and clothing. Do not extend the time in the sun even if you have lubricated yourself. Lubricate before going out, repeat every two hours and after bathing and sweating.
- Do not use tanning beds
There is no safe lower limit to how long you can stay in the solarium.