Bereaved Individuals Have a Higher Risk of Dying from Melanoma, but are Less Likely of Being Diagnosed

Bereaved people who experience the loss of a partner have an increased risk of dying if diagnosed with melanoma, according to the results of a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

To conduct this study, the researchers used data from two large population-based studies between 1997 and 2017 in the UK and Denmark. They found that melanoma patients who experienced loss had a 17% higher risk of dying from their melanoma compared with those who were not bereaved, and these results similar results were similar in both countries.

Interestingly, the results of the study also found that people who lost a partner were 12% less likely to be diagnosed with melanoma compared with non-bereaved persons, with 620 and 1,667 bereaved diagnosed in the UK and Denmark over the 20 year period, compared with 6,430 bereaved and 16,166 non-bereaved, respectively.

Angel Wong, lead author and Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a press release that: “Many factors can influence melanoma survival. Our work suggests that melanoma may take longer to detect in bereaved people, potentially because partners play an important role in spotting early signs of skin cancer. Support for recently bereaved people, including showing how to properly check their skin, could be vital for early detection of skin cancer, and thus improved survival.”


Dr. Walayat Hussain of the British Association of Dermatologists added that:”Detecting melanoma early can greatly improve survival and partners are key to this. Those without a partner should be vigilant in checking their skin, particularly in hard to reach locations such as the back, scalp, and ears.

“Skin cancer is a disease which is most common in older people, who are also most likely to be bereaved, so targeting skin checking advice at this group should be a priority.”