August 13, 2012
1 min read

Risk perceptions drove skin examinations in people without melanomas

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People with no history of melanoma reported a higher frequency of skin examinations when they perceived a greater risk for developing the disease and the severity of its consequences, according to an international Web-based survey.

Researchers collected data during a 20-month period, using a Melanoma Genetics Consortium questionnaire to review self-reported frequency of skin self-examination (SSE) and clinical skin examination (CSE) for 8,178 adults (73% women) from Australia (13%), the United States (8%) and Europe, which was divided into northern (32%), central (33%) and southern (14%) regions.

The likelihood of an annual SSE increased for participants with no history of melanoma who had moles larger than 6 mm in diameter (OR=1.52; 99% CI, 1.14-2.02, >5 moles), as well as the perception of greater risk for developing skin cancer (OR=1.60; 99% CI, 1.41-1.82), perceived disease severity (OR=1.20; 99% CI, 1.04-1.39) and perceived benefits of SSE (OR=2.05; 99% CI, 1.79-2.36). Similar findings were reported for CSE.

Participants with a personal history of melanoma reported the highest rates of exams compared with family or no history (SSE, P<.001; CSE, P<.001). Ninety-two percent of women with previous melanoma diagnoses reported SSE at least once a year, compared with 74% of women with family history and 53% with no history. Eighty-three percent of men and 86% of women with personal history of melanoma reported annual CSE, compared with those with family history (33% and 40% for men and women, respectively) and no history (15% and 14%).

Frequency of skin examination was higher in Australia (OR=1.80; 99% CI, 1.49-2.18 for SSE; OR=2.63; 99% CI, 2.23-3.23 for CSE) and the US (OR=2.28; 99% CI, 1.76-2.94 for SSE; OR=3.39; 99% CI, 2.60-4.18, for CSE) than the three European regions after adjustment for age and sex.

“Given the strong association between psychosocial factors and skin examination behaviors … we recommend that greater attempts be made to integrate psycho-education into the fabric of public health initiatives and clinical care,” the researchers concluded.