Effectiveness of a knowledge-based intervention for melanoma among those with ethnic skin

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 May;62(5):777-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2009.08.047. Epub 2010 Mar 9.


Background: Among patients with melanoma, ethnic minorities are 1.96 to 3.01 times as likely to die from melanoma as Caucasians of the same age and sex.

Objective: We sought to assess the effectiveness of a melanoma early detection educational intervention among those with ethnic skin.

Methods: A consecutive convenience sample of patients received instruction on the ABCDEs of melanoma and skin self-examination. Self-report questionnaires assessing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors were completed before, and immediately and 3 months after, the intervention.

Results: Among the 71 participants, 21% reported a skin phenotype with at least sometimes burning. Knowledge that melanoma is a skin cancer and of the warning signs of melanoma significantly increased after the intervention and was retained at 3 months. The perception of being at risk to develop a melanoma significantly increased after the intervention and was retained at 3 months (P < .001). Monthly checking of the skin, especially acral sites (palms, soles, periungual), increased significantly immediately after the intervention.

Limitations: A limitation is accrual from dermatology patients, who may be more inclined to perform skin self-examination compared with the general minority population.

Conclusions: People of color benefit from specific physician recommendations explaining their risk to develop melanoma and which anatomic sites to check. Acral lentiginous melanoma among ethnic minorities tends to present in non-sun-exposed but visible areas, particularly volar and subungual sites; therefore, skin self-examination educational materials for minority populations should incorporate these anatomic sites.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Self-Examination
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Sunburn / complications