Gender differences in melanoma survival: female patients have a decreased risk of metastasis

J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Mar;131(3):719-26. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.354. Epub 2010 Dec 9.


Female melanoma patients generally exhibit significantly longer survival than male patients. This population-based cohort study aimed to investigate gender differences in survival and disease progression across all stages of cutaneous melanoma. A total of 11,774 melanoma cases extracted from the Munich Cancer Registry (Germany), diagnosed between 1978 and September 2007, were eligible to enter the study. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), adjusted for tumor and patient characteristics, were estimated for the end points of survival, regional and systemic progression, and survival after progression. A significant female advantage was observed for melanoma-specific survival (adjusted HR 0.62; 95% CI 0.56-0.70). Women were at a lower risk of progression (HR 0.68; 95% CI 0.62-0.75), including a lower risk of lymph node metastasis (HR 0.58; 95% CI 0.51-0.65) and visceral metastases (HR 0.56; 95% CI 0.49-0.65). They retained a significant survival advantage after first progression (HR 0.81; 95% CI 0.71-0.92) and lymph node metastasis (HR 0.80; 95% CI 0.66-0.96), but this became borderline significant (HR 0.88; 95% CI 0.76-1.03) after visceral metastasis. Localized melanomas in women had a lower propensity to metastasize, resulting in a better survival when compared with men, even after first disease progression. These results suggest differences in tumor-host interaction across gender.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Progression*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis*
  • Melanoma / mortality*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Survival Rate