Perceived Intrafamily Melanoma Risk Communication


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Abstract

Melanoma is a skin cancer that can be deadly. Members of families with a strong history of melanoma have a high risk of melanoma occurrence or recurrence. Enhanced survival in these family members could be influenced by their knowledge of melanoma risk and by simple behaviors to decrease their risk or detect melanoma in its early, most curable, stage. Yet, there is minimal exploration on communication of risk or risk-modifying behaviors in melanoma at-risk families. In this study, we describe perceived intrafamily communication of melanoma risk. Using a qualitative descriptive approach, we examined in-depth interviews with 22 members of 8 families having 2 or more cases of melanoma. We identified 4 major themes: (1) awareness and understanding of risk, (2) families facilitate and hinder communication, (3) promoting melanoma prevention and detection in the family, and (4) an obligation to tell others. We discuss these findings in the context of extant knowledge of cancer risk communication in families at high risk for other cancers, impediments to cancer risk communication, remaining gaps in knowledge of this phenomenon, suggestions for hypothesis-driven research, and clinical implications that are applicable to these and other at-risk families.

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