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Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research

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Melanoma -- preventive behaviors, Melanoma -- prevention & control


Melanoma is a significant cause of cancer death, despite being detectable without specialized or invasive technologies. Understanding barriers to preventive behaviors such as skin self-examination (SSE) could help to define interventions for increasing the frequency of early detection. To determine melanoma knowledge and beliefs across three high-incidence US states, 15,000 surveys were sent to a population-representative sample. We aimed to assess (1) melanoma literacy (i.e., knowledge about melanoma risks, attitudes, and preventive behaviors) and (2) self-reported SSE and its association with melanoma literacy, self-efficacy, and belief in the benefits of SSE. Of 2326 respondents, only 21.2% provided responses indicating high knowledge of melanoma, and 62.8% reported performing an SSE at any time in their lives. Only 38.3% and 7.3% reported being “fairly” or “very” confident about doing SSE, respectively. SSE performance among respondents was most strongly associated with higher melanoma knowledge, higher self-efficacy, and personal history of melanoma. Melanoma literacy among survey respondents was modest, with greater literacy associated with a higher likelihood of reported preventive behavior. This assessment establishes a baseline and provides guidance for public health campaigns designed to increase prevention and early detection of this lethal cancer.


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