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Genetics of Skin Cancer (PDQ®): Genetics - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Psychosocial Issues in Familial Melanoma

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One qualitative study of 20 FDRs of melanoma patients recruited from a high-risk clinic at the University of Arizona identified perceived unmet needs for physician communication of risk status, including greater consistency in communication, education for patients concerning the importance of family history to risk status, and needs and desire for more complex advice (e.g., reapplication of sunscreen and wearing clothing with ultraviolet protection factor).[24]

Early Detection Behaviors in Individuals at Heightened Genetic Risk of Melanoma

A number of studies have examined early-detection behaviors in individuals at increased risk of melanoma. In a U.S. sample of 404 siblings drawn from a clinic population of melanoma patients, only 42% of individuals had ever seen a dermatologist; 62% had engaged in skin self-examination; 27% had received a physician skin examination; and only 54% routinely used sunscreen. Female gender was related to greater sunscreen use; those older than age 50 years were more likely to have received a physician skin examination. Having a dermatologist was strongly related to all three outcomes (skin self-examination, physician examination, and sunscreen use).[25] In a U.S. study of 229 FDRs referred by patients attending clinic, about half (55%) reported ever having a total cutaneous examination, and slightly more (71%) reported ever performing skin self-examination. Common predictors of skin examination (physician and self-examinations) included physician recommendation and low perceived barriers of screening.[20] Interestingly, 14% of the sample had not told their primary care doctor about their sibling's melanoma diagnosis. One U.S. study showed that half (53%) of FDRs had never received a total cutaneous screening by a physician; only 27% had received a physician recommendation to have a screening. Early detection adherence was related to the following: higher education level, more melanoma risk factors, health care provider recommendation for screening, perceived risk of melanoma, and perceived severity of melanoma. Parents of melanoma patients were less likely to have pursued screening than siblings and children.[26] A U.S. study examined intentions to receive a physician skin examination and to perform skin self-examination among FDRs of individuals diagnosed with melanoma who had not recently engaged in skin surveillance. Predictors of intentions included both benefits and barriers to screening and family support for screening, but not knowledge of recommended screening frequency.[27]

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