Video Intervention May Save Most at Risk of Melanoma

Video interventions highlighting the seriousness of melanoma and the importance of skin checks may save the lives of Queensland men over 50, according to a landmark study.

New research* from CCQ, QUT, QIMR Berghofer and Griffith University recruited more than 900 Queensland men aged 50 years or older for a seven month study.

While 469 men took part in a video-based intervention to improve self-examination and uptake of clinical skin checks, 461 men received only written information about skin cancer awareness.

The study found the men receiving the video intervention were more likely to visit a doctor for a whole-body skin check than those receiving only written information.

Overall, 69 skin cancers were diagnosed through clinical skin examinations during the study period, with a higher proportion detected among the group receiving the video intervention.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said older men were more likely to be diagnosed with thick melanoma, and their melanoma was more likely to be fatal.

“Any measure we can take to help older men detect skin cancer early, and to encourage them to see a doctor, and beat this disease, the better,” Ms Clift said.

“Early detection by self-examination or having a doctor check your skin is vital to reduce the burden of melanoma – particularly for men aged over 50 who are most at risk of dying from this cancer.

“Around 30 per cent of people visit a doctor for a clinical skin check at least every three years, but older men are less likely than other age groups to do so.

“Our research found that in 76 per cent of men who visited a doctor for a skin check during the study period, skin lesions were discovered that required some form of management.

“Two melanomas, 29 squamous cell carcinomas and 38 basal cell carcinomas were diagnosed, with a higher proportion of skin cancers diagnosed in the group undertaking video intervention.

“We believe the implementation of behavioural interventions, like educational videos, that encourage skin awareness in Queensland men over 50 are crucial in improving survival rates.”

Lead researcher Associate Professor Monika Janda from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Intervention said the video guided men through the self-examination process, enabling them to become familiar with their own skin so they could be alert to any changes.

“The self-examination video, which featured Australian cricketer Ian Healey, proved to be a useful prompt for men to go to the doctor for a clinical skin examination,” Prof Janda said.

Professor Janda said researchers were keen to take the program wider and make a DVD available to all Queensland men aged over 50 as the benefits of doing so had now been proven.

“While the National Health and Medical Research Council funded this study, we are now seeking sponsorship so we can help as many men as possible,” Professor Janda said.

Cancer Council research shows having one whole-body skin check by a doctor within the past three years can reduce the risk of being diagnosed with thick melanoma by 14 per cent.

Clinical skin examinations have been shown to detect thin melanomas and reduce the incidence of thick melanomas.

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For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171