(HealthDay News) — Few dermatology patients engage in skin cancer screening behaviors, and most have poor knowledge about melanoma, with lower understanding among minority patients, according to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
To examine skin cancer surveillance behaviors and awareness, Dorota Z. Korta, Ph.D., from the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues conducted a survey among 152 patients attending a dermatology clinic at a public hospital in New York City from April to June 2012.
The researchers found that 16 percent of patients had previously undergone total body skin examinations for cancer. More whites (49 percent) than minorities (5 percent) had a total body skin examination. Eleven percent of patients were taught how to perform skin self-examinations by health care practitioners and 15 percent reported performing skin self-examinations. Only one-third (33 percent) of patients previously diagnosed with skin cancer performed skin self-examinations. Patients had poor ability to identify suspicious features associated with melanoma, with worse performance among minorities than whites.
“Few patients engage in skin cancer screening behaviors and their knowledge about melanoma is poor, with minorities demonstrating lower understanding than whites,” the authors write. “Our findings emphasize the need for improved patient education about characteristics of melanoma, regardless of race.”