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Australas J Dermatol. 2009 Aug;50(3):176-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-0960.2009.00533.x.

Thoroughness of skin examination by melanoma patients: influence of age, sex and partner.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


The aim of this study was to determine the thoroughness of deliberate skin examination by people with a history of melanoma. Patients were randomized into one of two conditions: either to receive the brief educational and skills training intervention alone or as a couple with their spouse or cohabiting partner. Subjects recorded concerning lesions on body maps. At the 4-month visit, a total body skin examination was performed by a dermatologist blinded to the subjects' condition and to their recorded responses. The skin surface was divided according to the region's visibility during skin self-examination and sexual connotations: visible/not sexually sensitive, non-visible/not sexually sensitive and sexually sensitive. The primary point of comparison was missed lesions, defined as the difference between lesions recorded by the subjects and their partners and those recorded by the dermatologist. Among 130 participants, 56 subjects reported partner assistance while performing SSE. Participants missed more lesions in sexually sensitive areas than in the other regions. With the increasing age of the patient, the number of missed lesions in non-visible/not sexually sensitive and sexually sensitive areas decreased. Male patients assisted by female partners missed fewer lesions in all three regions than female patients assisted by male partners. In easily visible areas, male patients missed significantly fewer lesions than female patients (P = 0.01). Older couples performed more thorough partner-assisted skin examinations in non-visible and sexually sensitive areas than younger couples. Male patients who were assisted by female partners performed more thorough partner-assisted skin examinations than female patients assisted by male partners.

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