Prevalence of whole-body skin self-examination in a population at high risk for skin cancer (Australia)

Cancer Causes Control. 2004 Jun;15(5):453-63. doi: 10.1023/B:CACO.0000036451.39128.f6.


Objective: Whole-body skin self-examination (SSE) with presentation of suspicious lesions to a physician may improve early detection of melanoma. The aim of this study was to establish the prevalence and determinants of SSE in a high-risk population in preparation for a community-based randomised controlled trial of screening for melanoma.

Methods: A telephone survey reached 3110 residents older than 30 years (overall response rate of 66.9%) randomly selected from 18 regional communities in Queensland, Australia.

Results: Overall, 804 (25.9%) participants reported whole-body SSE within the past 12 months and 1055 (33.9%) within the past three years. Whole-body SSE was associated in multivariate logistic regression analysis with younger age (< 50 years); higher education; having received either a whole-body skin examination, recommendation or instruction on SSE by a primary care physicial; giving skin checks a high priority; concern about skin cancer and a personal history of skin cancer.

Conclusion: Overall, the prevalence of SSE in the present study is among the highest yet observed in Australia, with about one-third of the adult population reporting whole-body SSE in the past three years. People over 50 years, who are at relatively higher risk for skin cancer, currently perform SSE less frequently than younger people.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Primary Health Care
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Examination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology