Cancer Risk Perceptions Among People Who Check Their Skin for Skin Cancer: Results from the 2017 U.S. Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS)

Skin Cancer

J Cancer Educ. 2020 Sep 24. doi: 10.1007/s13187-020-01880-5. Online ahead of print.


When detected early, melanoma is highly treatable and rarely fatal. Self-skin checks can identify changes in moles that could be an indicator of melanoma. Cancer risk perceptions may influence the uptake of important preventive health behaviors such as self-skin checks. The purpose of this study is to examine cancer risk perception factors associated with those who have checked their skin for signs of skin cancer using the 2017 HINTS data. Retrospective cross-sectional analysis of a nationally

representative sample of U.S. adults using the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS). Logistic regressions were performed to identify associations between having checked skin for signs of skin cancer, risk perceptions, and demographic variables. White women over the age of 45 with a college degree and annual incomes greater than $75,000 were more likely to check their skin for signs of skin cancer. More than a third reported they would rather not know if they had cancer and more than 60% had some level of worry about having cancer. Those with a personal or family history of cancer were more likely to check. HINTS is a cross-sectional survey which provides only a glimpse of behavioral predictors. Self-skin checks are simple and cost-effective to detect melanoma early and improve outcomes. Fear and worry about cancer were significant factors in the likelihood of checking skin for signs of skin cancer. Population-based strategies could be developed to reduce concerns about early detection.