A skills training intervention, designed to enhance the reliability of skin self-examination between patients with melanoma and their partners, may improve early detection of new melanomas, a study published in JAMA Dermatology has shown.1

More than 1 million patients diagnosed with melanoma in the United States are at risk for developing a second primary melanoma. Because early detection of skin cancer improves survival, patients with melanoma should perform skin self-examinations, in addition to yearly skin examinations by a physician, and notify their clinician when a concerning lesion is detected. Patients are encouraged to perform the self-examination with skin-check partners.

Researchers evaluated the impact of a structured skin self-examination program by enrolling 494 patients with stage 0 to IIB melanoma, as well as their skin-check partners. Partners (dyads) were randomly assigned to receive the skills training program or usual care. The intervention comprised a 30-minute training session at baseline; skills were reinforced at 4-month intervals during skin examination by the physician.

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Patients who received the structured skin self-examination skills training intervention had significantly increased skin self-examinations with their partners at 4, 12, and 24 months, in contrast with those in the control arm (P < .001 for all time points).

It was found that patients in the intervention group identified new melanomas in situ (P < .01) and invasive melanoma (P < .05) significantly more than those in the control group, without increasing the number of physician visits.

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“Accurate skin self-examination by those at risk to develop melanoma may enhance early detection and relieve some of the burden on health services to provide continuing follow-up to a growing population of eligible patients,” the authors concluded.                                     


  1. Robinson JK, Wayne JD, Martini MC, Hultgren BA, Mallett KA, Turrisi R. Early detection of new melanomas by patients with melanoma and their partners using a structured skin self-examination skills training intervention. JAMA Dermatol. 2016. [Epub ahead of print]