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Practice Gaps
February 21, 2011

Unrecognized Sex-Specific Stress and Behavior Differences in Patients With Melanoma

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Melanoma Program, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Department of Dermatology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Arch Dermatol. 2011;147(2):186. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2010.432

The study by Holterhues et al reveals differences in how women and men respond to their melanoma diagnosis. This may represent a practice gap for dermatologists who do not modify their counseling strategies to meet sex-specific patient needs. The study revealed that while both sexes demonstrated an impact of the melanoma diagnosis on HRQoL, the impact on women was more extreme in both positive and negative directions. Additional questions also revealed that the melanoma diagnosis in women had a greater impact on outside activities (vacations and occupations), concern regarding the effects of sun exposure on themselves and their children, and shade-seeking behavior. The core reason for this patient outcome gap between men and women is unclear but may be due to differences in melanoma education. While health care practitioners may be the primary source of education, the differences could be due to alternative sources of information (ie, Web sites, social network) and the extent to which these sources are sought and used. The differences may also be related to the way male and female patients interpret and apply melanoma information. Given that melanoma clinical care is currently not modified based on sex, these data suggest that a practice gap may exist in our current care protocols.

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