Many melanoma patients do not perform regular skin self-exams or engage in sufficient sun protection behaviors despite their elevated risk for a second, unrelated melanoma.
This is precisely why Cancer Institute of New Jersey behavioral scientist Elliot J. Coups, PhD, is developing a web-based behavioral tool for this group using a $2.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. The grant will support the work through 2019.
A preliminary study conducted by Coups and colleagues in 2012-2013 showed that one of the reasons why melanoma patients don’t perform regular skin assessments is because they don’t know what to look for.
Enter the new app, which could be used on a tablet or smartphone. It will feature general information on melanoma and follow-up care, as well as reminders for regular skin examinations, and a section describing sun-safe behaviors. The app will also include interactive quizzes and questionnaires, and the ability to create an online body mole map. Patients will be advised to visit their doctor if they identify a suspicious mark on their skin while doing a self-exam.
Following an assessment of the new tool, 420 melanoma survivors who are 3-to-24 months postsurgical treatment will be sought to take part in a 12-month intervention to see how effective it is.
This information will help further refine the intervention for a larger-scale evaluation trial.