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Psychooncology. 2017 Dec;26(12):2142-2148. doi: 10.1002/pon.4315. Epub 2016 Dec 6.

Communication about melanoma and risk reduction after melanoma diagnosis.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Internal Medicine and Dermatology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA.



Melanoma patients are advised to perform regular risk-reduction practices, including sun protection as well as skin self-examinations (SSEs) and physician-led examinations. Melanoma-specific communication regarding family risk and screening may promote such behaviors. To this end, associations between patients' melanoma-specific communication and risk reduction were examined.


Melanoma patients (N = 169) drawn from a population-based cancer registry reported their current risk-reduction practices, perceived risk of future melanoma, and communication with physicians and relatives about melanoma risk and screening.


Patients were, on average, 56 years old and 6.7 years' post diagnosis; 51% were male, 93% reported "fair/very fair" skin color, 75% completed at least some college, and 22% reported a family history of melanoma. Patients reported varying levels of regular (always/nearly always) sun protection: sunscreen use (79%), shade seeking (60%), hat use (54%), and long-sleeve shirt use (30%). Only 28% performed thorough SSE regularly, whereas 92% reported undergoing physician-led skin examinations within the past year. Participants who were female, younger, and had a higher perceived risk of future melanoma were more likely to report past communication. In adjusted analyses, communication remained uniquely associated with increased sunscreen use and SSE.


Encouraging melanoma patients to have a more active role in discussions concerning melanoma risk and screening with relatives and physicians alike may be a useful strategy to promote 2 key risk-reduction practices post melanoma diagnosis and treatment. Future research is needed to identify additional strategies to improve comprehensive risk reduction in long-term melanoma patients.


cancer; communication; melanoma; oncology; risk reduction; survivorship

[Available on 2018-12-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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