Let’s Talk About Skin Cancer

Let’s Talk About Skin Cancer

Family communication about skin cancer risk may motivate people to put sun protection into practice. However, the availability, distribution, and reach of such communication is not well known.

In a recent publication in the Journal of Health Communication, authors including Dr. David Buller from Klein Buendel, describe prevalence and patterns of family communication about skin cancer across 600 diverse primary care patients. The patients were from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a geographical location with low latitude and significant year-round ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Over half of the patients reported discussing general cancer and skin cancer risks with their families. The most frequent target of skin cancer risk communication included doctors, followed by friends/coworkers, spouse/partner, other family members, sisters, mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, and brothers. On average, participants reported having talked to three family members about skin cancer risks.

The most frequently discussed skin cancer risk communication topics were the use of sun protection, followed by the personal risk of skin cancer, who had skin cancer in the family, family risk of skin cancer, time of sun exposure, and skin cancer screening. Overall, greater family communication about general cancer and skin cancer risks was associated with a family or personal history of cancer, higher perceived risk, higher health literacy, being non-Hispanic, having higher education or income, and proactive sun protective behavior.

These study findings have implications for developing interventions that encourage family discussions about skin cancer risk, sun protection, and skin cancer screening that may foster the adoption of sun-protective behaviors and reduced exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation.

This research was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (CA181241; Dr. Jennifer Hay and Dr. Marianne Berwick, Multiple Principal Investigators). Authors in addition to the Principal Investigators include Dr. Smita Banerjee (lead author) and Dr. Elizabeth Schofield from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Dr. Andrew Sussman, Dr. Dolores Guest, Dr. Yvonne Dailey, Dr. Matthew Schwartz, and Dr. Keith Hunley from the University of New Mexico; Dr. Kimberly Kaphingst from the University of Utah; and Dr. David Buller from Klein Buendel.

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