Are you married? It can cut your risk of skin cancer death


Turns out, your marital status can have an influence on your health. A new study shows that melanoma patients who are married tend to be diagnosed in earlier, more treatable stages, than patients who are unmarried, widowed or divorced. A previous study had shown that compared to married heart disease patients, being unmarried was associated with a higher risk of dying.
Melanoma often resembles a misshapen mole, and can be a blend of black, brown, tan or even bluish pigment. It’s linked with too much exposure to sun or tanning beds. It’s also more common in fair-skinned people and those with lots of moles.
The recent study shows that spouses can help in several ways, especially in terms of early detection of melanoma. They may be able to notice suspicious moles on their partners that could signal melanoma, or the most dangerous type of skin cancer. They could also play a large role in getting their partners to get the moles checked out, said researchers from the University of Pennsylvania.
The findings suggest that unmarried people can ask relatives/friends to check or seek skin exams from dermatologists. The study is unclear about why marriage makes a major difference in diagnosis since even unmarried partners or friends might also notice skin changes, said study co-authors Cimarron Sharon and Dr Giorgos Karakousis.
The researchers analysed 52,000 melanoma patients in a US government cancer database who were diagnosed between 2010 to 2014. Unlike other skin cancers, melanoma is more likely to spread beyond the initial tumour site to other organs.
Among the married patients, almost 47% had the earliest-stage tumours compared with 43% of never-married patients, 39% of divorced patients and 32% of widowed patients. 3% of married participants had the most ominous tumours compared with almost 10% of widowed patients. Married patients also were more likely than others to receive biopsies of nearby lymph nodes, usually recommended to guide treatment.
The study , published Wednesday in JAMA Dermatology, echoes previous research that found advanced melanoma that has spread is less common in married patients.
(With inputs from Associated Press)


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