Worldwide, the total incidence of cutaneous melanoma is higher in men than in women, with some differences related to ethnicity and age and, above all, sex and gender. Differences exist in respect to the anatomic localization of melanoma, in that it is more frequent on the trunk in men and on the lower limbs in women. A debated issue is if—and to what extent—melanoma development can be attributed to gender-specific behaviors or to biologically intrinsic differences. In the search for factors responsible for the divergences, a pivotal role of sex hormones has been observed, although conflicting results indicate the involvement of other mechanisms. The presence on the X chromosome of numerous miRNAs and coding genes playing immunological roles represents another important factor, whose relevance can be even increased by the incomplete X chromosome random inactivation. Considering the known advantages of the female immune system, a different cancer immune surveillance efficacy was suggested to explain some sex disparities. Indeed, the complexity of this picture emerged when the recently developed immunotherapies unexpectedly showed better improvements in men than in women. Altogether, these data support the necessity of further studies, which consider enrolling a balanced number of men and women in clinical trials to better understand the differences and obtain actual gender-equitable healthcare.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited