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.