Background: In the US, almost 800,000 individuals have had melanoma. They have a risk of reoccurrence and 5–10% will develop new melanomas.
Objective: The purpose was to use a US population based sample of melanoma survivors and controls to evaluate sun protection behaviors.
Methods: We conducted a secondary data analysis of the 2005 and 2007 National Cancer Institute's Health Information National Trends Surveys. Skin protection behaviors of melanoma survivors (N=156) were compared to respondents without cancer (N=11408). We used unconditional logistic regression to estimate proportional odd ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and education.
Results: Among melanoma survivors, 51.0% used sunscreen, 43.0% sought shade, and 74.3% wore protective clothing on sunny days. Among cancer-free controls, 34.7% used sunscreen, 37.1% sought shade, and 68.0% wore protective clothing. The adjusted ORs (95% CIs) for sunscreen use and seeking shade in melanoma survivors compared to controls were 2.02 (1.36, 2.99) and 1.51 (1.02, 2.23), respectively. Further, 10 melanoma survivors reported using tanning beds after their diagnosis.
Limitations: HINTS questions did not ascertain skin self-exam practices, physician advice or knowledge about risk avoidance.
Conclusions: Melanoma survivors tend to use sunscreen and seek shade more frequently than cancer-free individuals but lower than expected given their cancer history. Health promotion programs among melanoma survivors need to continue to promote sunscreen and shade use, as well as discourage tanning bed use.