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Abstract

This study examined the prevalence and predictors of self screening for melanoma in a large sample of young New Zealanders. A self-report questionnaire was administered to a sample of 909, 21-year-olds to investigate if young adults check their skin for changes in lesions which could be melanoma, and to identify the factors which influence this behaviour and any subsequent help seeking. Fifty-three per cent reported checking their skin in the past year, with 20% noticing a change in a mole or freckle. Forty-five per cent of those who noticed a change sought medical advice. The most common reason for not seeking advice was cost. Women were more likely than men to have checked their skin, to have noticed a change and to have sought medical advice. In addition to gender, tendency to self check was also associated with knowledge of melanoma and perceived risk of melanoma. These results are discussed in light of the current debate regarding skin cancer screening. This study fills a gap in the literature regarding self screening for melanoma in young adults and identifies ways in which future prevention campaigns might be modified to address the concerns of this age group.