Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 22, Issue 11, pp 2973–2980 | Cite as

Health behaviors and needs of melanoma survivors

  • Oxana PaleshEmail author
  • Arianna Aldridge-Gerry
  • Kelly Bugos
  • David Pickham
  • Jie Jane Chen
  • Ralph Greco
  • Susan M. Swetter
Original Article



Little is known about melanoma survivors’ long-term symptoms, sun protection practices, and support needs from health providers.


Melanoma survivors treated at Stanford Cancer Center from 1995 through 2011 were invited to complete a heath needs survey. We compared responses of survivors by sex, education, time since diagnosis (long-term vs. short-term survivors), and extent of treatment received (wide local excision (WLE) alone versus WLE plus additional surgical or medical treatment (WLE+)).


One hundred sixty melanoma survivors (51 % male; 61 % long-term; 73 % WLE+) provided evaluable data. On average, patients were 62 years of age (SD = 14), highly educated (75 % college degree), and Caucasian (94 %). Overall, participants rated anxiety as the most prevalent symptom (34 %). Seventy percent reported that their health provider did not address their symptoms, and 53 % requested education about melanoma-specific issues. Following treatment, women spent significantly less time seeking a tan compared with men (p = 0.01), had more extremity swelling (p = 0.014), and expressed higher need for additional services (p = 0.03). Long-term survivors decreased their use of tanning beds (p = 0.03) and time spent seeking a tan (p = 0.002) and were less likely to receive skin screening every 3–6 months (p < 0.001) compared with short-term survivors. WLE+ survivors reported greater physical long-term effects than WLE survivors (p ≤ 0.001) following treatment.


Melanoma survivors experience continuing symptoms long after treatment, namely anxiety, and they express a need for information about long-term melanoma effects, psychosocial support, and prevention of further skin cancer.


Melanoma Survivor Clinical services Long-term effects Quality of life Gender 



The authors thank Katherine L. McGurk, BS for her work in administering the survey. This study was funded in part by NCI K07CA132916 (OP).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no financial conflict of interest. The authors have full control of all primary data, and we agree to allow the journal to review these data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oxana Palesh
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Arianna Aldridge-Gerry
    • 1
  • Kelly Bugos
    • 5
    • 6
  • David Pickham
    • 6
  • Jie Jane Chen
    • 1
  • Ralph Greco
    • 2
  • Susan M. Swetter
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryStanford University Medical Center and Cancer InstituteStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of Dermatology/Pigmented Lesion and Melanoma ProgramStanford University Medical Center and Cancer InstituteStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Dermatology ServiceVA Palo Alto Health Care SystemPalo AltoUSA
  5. 5.Stanford Cancer InstituteStanfordUSA
  6. 6.Stanford Hospital and ClinicsStanfordUSA

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