Genetic Counseling Program

Untitled Document

Cutaneous Melanoma Risk Factors and Risk Perceptions: A Comparison between Positive Family History and Negative Family History Melanoma Patients.   By Jessica Bogacik

Background:  Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Cutaneous malignant melanoma is a less common form of skin cancer, but a more severe form, resulting in the most skin cancer deaths.  Approximately 5-10% of all melanoma cases are hereditary.  The most significant risk factor for melanoma is a positive family history.  Although family history is the greatest risk factor, little research has previously been done to assess the level of importance that patients place on history. This study investigates the knowledge that patients have about the general risk factors for cutaneous melanoma and assesses the extent to which patients with melanoma view family history as a risk factor.  Two populations, melanoma patients with a positive family history and melanoma patients without a positive family history, are compared. It is hypothesized that these two groups will view melanoma differently and will have different risk perceptions of the disease.  Methods:  The sample was comprised of Duke Dermatology participants diagnosed with melanoma. Fourteen participants filled out a demographic survey and completed a follow-up phone interview. Through the use of phone interviews, this study was mostly qualitative in design. Questions elicited information on knowledge about melanoma, health-related behaviors, sun-protective behaviors, risk perceptions of susceptibly to melanoma and severity of melanoma, potential barriers and benefits of screening, genetic testing, and genetic counseling.  Several previously validated scales were employed to increase the strength and reliability of this study.  Descriptive and inferential statistics were computed, and content analysis was performed on open-ended responses to uncover emerging themes. Results:  Results showed differences in perceptions, most notably in viewing family history as a significant risk factor. In addition, the majority expressed interest in genetic counseling and genetic testing, illustrating the growing need for genetic services.

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  • "I chose to attend UNCG because of its shared learning environment and the access to some of the leading institutions in the country. "



  • "UNCG is a great fit for me. The program directors have extensive experience in the world of genetic counseling and provide you with opportunities to work with some of the best medical centers in the country. Our location allows us to have expert guest lecturers, many of whom you also get to work alongside or observe in your clinical rotations in your second year. We also have some really wonderful and unique opportunities as a part of this program: we observe in syndrome specific support groups and clinics, tour genetic laboratories, and are matched with a family with a genetic disease to learn what it is like to live with a genetic condition. Finally, our directors are genuinely invested in each of us, and care about our success and getting to know each of us personally."




  • "The director and assistant director do their best to ensure that our program provides a collaborative learning experience.  Both are active members of the Genetic Counseling community and strive to introduce you to all aspects of this field.  We also have renowned clinical sites and the beautiful state of North Carolina at our disposal.”