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Skin self-examination behaviors among individuals diagnosed with melanoma

Coups, Elliot J.a,b,d; Manne, Sharon L.a,b,d; Stapleton, Jerod L.a,b,d; Tatum, Kristina L.a; Goydos, James S.a,c

doi: 10.1097/CMR.0000000000000204

Many melanoma patients do not regularly perform thorough skin self-examinations. We examined the extent to which melanoma patients conduct thorough skin self-examination, how they perform skin self-examination, and their related knowledge and self-efficacy. A sample of 176 individuals (61.5% response rate) diagnosed with primary pathologic stage 0–III cutaneous malignant melanoma at a single cancer center completed a written or telephone survey regarding their skin self-examination behaviors and associated factors. Almost all participants (98.9%) reported their race as white. Almost three-quarters (71.6%) of participants reported doing an examination in the past 2 months. However, only 14.2% had examined all areas of the body in the past 2 months. Few participants reported always using a full-length mirror (13.4%), hand-held mirror (11.3%), or having someone help (9.2%) when doing an examination. Having a higher level of education, greater knowledge of the ABCDE rule for detecting potential melanoma, higher skin self-examination self-efficacy, being shown how to do skin self-examination, and being shown what a suspicious mole would look like were all significantly associated with conducting more thorough skin self-examination. Most melanoma patients do not engage in regular, thorough skin self-examination, and when they do examine their skin they typically do not sufficiently utilize tools and techniques to facilitate a thorough examination and tracking of potentially suspicious moles. Efforts to promote skin self-examination among melanoma patients should focus on increasing knowledge and self-efficacy and providing education about the why, when, and how of conducting self-examination and mole tracking.

aRutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

bDepartment of Medicine

cDepartment of Surgery, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick

dDepartment of Health Education and Behavioral Science, Rutgers School of Public Health, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA

Correspondence to Elliot J. Coups, PhD, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 195 Little Albany Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903, USA Tel: +1 732 235 8076; fax: +1 732 235 8808; e-mail:

Received February 12, 2015

Accepted August 25, 2015

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