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Br J Cancer. 2010 Nov 9;103(10):1502-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605942. Epub 2010 Oct 26.

Skin cancer screening behaviours among individuals with a strong family history of malignant melanoma.

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School of Women's and Children's Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia.



This study examined the prevalence and correlates of skin cancer screening behaviours among individuals at high risk of developing melanoma due to strong family history.


A total of 120 individuals with a known family-specific CDKN2A mutation (72% response rate) completed a self-report questionnaire assessing annual frequency of skin self-examination (SSE), clinical skin examination (CSE) and a variety of potential demographic, clinical and psychosocial correlates.


In the past 12 months, 50% of participants reported engaging in SSE at least four times, and 43% of participants had undergone at least one CSE. Engagement in SSE was associated with doctor recommendation (β=1.77, P=0.001), confidence in one's ability to perform SSE (β=1.44, P<0.0001), positive beliefs about melanoma treatment (β=0.77, P=0.002) and intention to perform SSE in the future (β=1.69, P<0.0001). These variables accounted for 59% of the variance in SSE behaviour. Further, information-seeking style moderated the relationship between anxiety and SSE (β=1.02, P=0.004). Annual uptake of CSE was associated with doctor recommendation (β=2.21, P<0.0001) and intention to undergo CSE in the future (β=1.19, P=0.001).


In comparison with clinical guidelines, it appears that individuals at high risk of developing melanoma engage in suboptimal levels of skin surveillance. Improved doctor-patient communication, as well as psycho-education and behavioural support, may be viable means of improving early skin cancer detection behaviours in this high-risk population.

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