The global mortality rate for melanoma – the most serious type of skin cancer – has increased sharply among men since 1985, with women's mortality rates rising or even declining more slowly, according to the researchers, including one from India.
This could be because men are less likely to protect themselves from the sun or to engage in melanoma awareness and prevention campaigns, the researchers said.
"The main risk factor for melanoma is overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, either through exposure to the sun or using sunbeds," said Dorothy Yang, a junior doctor at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, UK.
"Despite public health efforts to increase the awareness of melanoma and promote the behavior of Sun-Smart, the incidence of melanoma has increased in recent decades," Yang added.
The results were presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow.
For the study, the team examined death rates in the 33 countries between 1985 and 2015, taking into account an aging population and other countries with a younger population.
Overall, in Australia (5.72 per 100,000 men and 2.53 per 100,000 in women) and Slovenia (3.86 in men and 2.58 in women) the highest three-year average mortality rates for the period 2013-2015 were found, the lowest in Japan (0.24 men and 0.18 women).
However, the Czech Republic was the only country where the team noted a decline in male melanoma death rates, with an annual percentage decline of 0.7% between 1985 and 2015.
In addition, Israel and the Czech Republic recorded the highest drop in women's mortality rates – 23.4% and 15.5%, respectively.
"This research shows that melanoma mortality rates are stabilizing or declining in some countries, especially women, but mortality rates have increased in men in almost all countries over the past 30 years," said Poulam Patel, a professor at the University of Nottingham in the UK.
However, more research is needed to understand the reason for this trend. However, more public health efforts by men may be needed in the meantime to raise awareness of the illness and behavior of Sun-Smart.