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Targeted Melanoma Education Improves Screening

Telephone counseling, reading material encourages high-risk siblings to conduct skin self-exams

MONDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- Targeted melanoma education aimed at high-risk individuals can boost rates of skin self-examination, according to a randomized trial of siblings of melanoma patients published online July 10 in Cancer.

Alan Geller, M.P.H., R.N., of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues report that siblings of recently diagnosed melanoma patients who received three telephone-counseling sessions, personalized educational reading material, and were referred to free screening exams were more likely to perform skin self-examinations (including comparing moles and surveying the back) than control patients who were simply notified by their affected sibling and told to see a doctor. Improvements were first observed at six months and lasted throughout the 12-month follow-up period.

There was no difference between the two groups in terms of physician skin examinations and/or the use of sunscreen, the study showed. At one year, two-thirds of siblings in both groups reported routine use of sunscreen and the number of siblings that received a skin cancer examination by a physician doubled in both groups.

"The components of the intervention may provide a useful foundation for future efforts to target the more than half million siblings at risk for melanoma, a lethal but preventable disease," the study authors conclude.

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