Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 453-463

First online:

Prevalence of Whole-Body Skin Self-Examination in a Population at High Risk for Skin Cancer (Australia)

  • Joanne F. AitkenAffiliated withSchool of Population Health, University of QueenslandDepartment of Epidemiology, Queensland Cancer Fund Email author 
  • , Monika JandaAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Queensland Cancer Fund
  • , John B. LoweAffiliated withDepartment of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa
  • , Mark ElwoodAffiliated withNational Cancer Control Initiative
  • , Ian T. RingAffiliated withHealth Information Centre, Queensland Health
  • , Philippa H. YoulAffiliated withOffice of Economic and Statistical Research, Queensland Treasury
  • , David W. Firman

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Objective: Whole-body skin self-examination (SSE) with presentation of suspicious lesions to a physician may improve early detection of melanoma. The aim of this study was to establish the prevalence and determinants of SSE in a high-risk population in preparation for a community-based randomised controlled trial of screening for melanoma.

Methods: A telephone survey reached 3110 residents older than 30 years (overall response rate of 66.9%) randomly selected from 18 regional communities in Queensland, Australia.

Results: Overall, 804 (25.9%) participants reported whole-body SSE within the past 12 months and 1055 (33.9%) within the past three years. Whole-body SSE was associated in multivariate logistic regression analysis with younger age ( <50 years); higher education; having received either a whole-body skin examination, recommendation or instruction on SSE by a primary care physician; giving skin checks a high priority; concern about skin cancer and a personal history of skin cancer.

Conclusion: Overall, the prevalence of SSE in the present study is among the highest yet observed in Australia, with about one-third of the adult population reporting whole-body SSE in the past threeyears. People over 50 years, who are at relatively higher risk for skin cancer, currently perform SSE less frequently than younger people.

melanoma randomised-controlled trial screening skin self-examination