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Pictures May Help Encourage Skin Cancer Self-Exams

Study found images more motivating than text descriptions alone

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Pictures can make a strong impression: People who see images of skin cancer are more likely to do skin examinations, according to a new study.

An evidence review concluded that people who saw pictures of skin cancer were motivated to check their skin more often and accurately. Text descriptions of skin cancer alone were not effective in promoting skin self-examination.

The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

"Visual images capture our attention and are persuasive. They also help us to learn and remember," study co-author Laurie Hoffman-Goetz, a professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, said in a university news release.

The findings could help improve early detection of skin cancer, including deadly melanoma.

"Skin self-examination plays an important role in detecting melanoma early. Many cases of melanoma are first detected by patients themselves," study co-author Jennifer McWhirter, a Ph.D. candidate, said in the news release.

"Incorporating images into clinical practice when educating patients can be a powerful tool in the fight against skin cancer," Hoffman-Goetz added.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in North America, the authors noted in the news release.

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