Attitude checks essential for men 50 years and older

QUT and Cancer Council researchers have endorsed a tool to assess the attitudes of men when it comes to skin checks, helping those most at risk to detect melanoma early.

Men 50 years and older are most at risk of being diagnosed with and dying from melanoma, and are the least likely to detect the cancer themselves or undergo skin checks at a GP.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the study was one of the first of its kind, assessing the attitudes of more than 800 men in Queensland.

“Few studies have measured the factors that may contribute to whether people check their skin to detect melanoma early, or not,” Ms Clift said.

“Our study looked at the effectiveness of the skin self-examination attitude scale (SSEAS) to measure the attitude of Queensland men 50 years and older when it comes to skin checks.

“The research shows the SSEAS is quick, easy to use and reliable in assessing the attitudes of men 50 years and older towards skin checks.

“Men responded to survey questions assessing whether checking their skin made them anxious, whether they were confident in their doctor’s ability to diagnose skin cancer, and whether they thought skin checks would improve their health.

“Only 18 per cent of men surveyed strongly agreed they could examine their skin regularly, even if they had no one to help them.

“Less than half strongly agreed they would go to the doctor straight away after seeing something suspicious on their skin.

“The tool will enable GPs and health professionals to identify men who may need greater attention or intervention to help them detect skin cancer early.

“Clinicians will be able to encourage men to start at-home skin checks regularly, to look for any new spots or unusual changes.”

Research shows melanomas detected by a person during deliberate skin checks, by a doctor or the person themselves, are more likely to be thinner than those detected by accident.

Ms Clift urged all Queenslanders to protect their skin to reduce their risk of skin cancer.

“Queenslanders should Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide when the UV Index is three or above to reduce their risk,” Ms Clift said.

“It’s also imperative that Queenslanders check their skin regularly for any changes – if skin cancer is detected early, there’s a greater chance of survival.

“Queenslanders should conduct self skin checks regularly, get to know their skin and visit a doctor if they notice a new spot or lesion, or an existing spot or lesion change in shape, colour or size.”

Around 1600 Queensland men aged 50 and over are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and around 200 men die from the disease.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au

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