When the risks are high: psychological adjustment among melanoma survivors at high risk of developing new primary disease

Qual Health Res. 2012 Aug;22(8):1102-13. doi: 10.1177/1049732312448542. Epub 2012 Jun 6.


In this study we explored the psychosocial experiences of melanoma survivors at high risk of developing new primary disease. A total of 20 survivors (9 men, 11 women, mean age 57.6 years) completed a semistructured telephone interview, exploring melanoma-related beliefs and experiences, psychological adjustment to melanoma risk, and supportive care needs. Participants perceived melanoma as potentially terminal and reported persistent worries about the possibility of developing new or metastatic disease. Fear of developing a new melanoma endured for years after treatment completion and, for some, created a pervasive sense of uncertainty. Still, not a single participant sought formal emotional support to address his or her melanoma-related concerns. Belief in the benefits of early intervention, including self- and clinical skin examination, provided a sense of control and a recommended course of action in an otherwise uncontrollable situation. The expertise of the High Risk Clinic physicians was perceived as instrumental in creating a sense of reassurance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Risk*
  • Self Concept
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Uncertainty