Predictors of skin cancer screening practice and attitudes in primary care

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Nov;57(5):775-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2007.04.023. Epub 2007 Aug 31.


Background: Physician visits provide invaluable opportunities to screen patients for skin cancer, yielding earlier detection and improved survival.

Objective: We sought to assess frequency of skin cancer screening by full body skin examinations (FBSE) by primary care physicians, patient attitudes toward FBSE, and risk factors for cutaneous malignancy.

Methods: Questionnaires were distributed to patients at primary care and dermatology clinics.

Results: A total of 426 participants were surveyed. Overall, 20% of patients reported having undergone regular FBSE by their primary care physician. Sex, race, personal skin cancer history, and Fitzpatrick skin type were predictive of whether a FBSE was performed by a patient's primary care physician. Men were more likely to report having undergone a FBSE (22% vs 19%; P < .01); women were more likely to report feeling embarrassed by a FBSE (15% vs 4%; P < .01).

Limitations: This study was conducted at a single site academic center.

Conclusion: Although low rates of skin cancer screening are reported by patients, those at higher risk are being screened more frequently. Sex disparity exists, and as both male and female patients have a strong preference to undergo FBSE, unmet opportunities for skin cancer prevention should be maximized.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening* / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Ratio
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires