Predictors of skin self-examination in subjects attending a pigmented lesion clinic in Italy


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Background  Skin self-examination (SSE) is associated with thinner melanomas in both North American and Italian patients. The knowledge of conditions associated with SSE may help in refining educational strategies for the prevention of melanoma.

Objective  The aim of the study was to investigate the frequency of SSE and the factors associated with SSE in subjects followed at a specialized pigmented lesion clinic (PLC) in Italy.

Patients/methods  A series of 299 consecutive subjects who visited the Florence PLC was investigated by means of a self-administered questionnaire regarding SSE habits. The statistical association between SSE and selected variables was examined by univariate and multivariate analyses.

Results  In the univariate analysis, variables significantly associated with SSE were: green/blue eyes, phototype I/II, the presence of large numbers of common acquired and atypical melanocytic naevi, sunscreen use, having had a previous PLC examination, and having received a leaflet explaining SSE. SSE was less frequent in women using sunbeds and more frequent in those performing breast self-examination. Using the multivariate model, which included all the variables associated with SSE in the previous analysis, we found that, among males, the only variable significantly associated with SSE was the report of having received a leaflet explaining SSE [odds ratio (OR) 3.02, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.24–7.38]. Among females, having had a previous consultation at a PLC was significantly associated with SSE (OR 4.84, 95%CI 1.57–14.93); this might be because of the explanation and advice about skin cancer prevention customarily provided as a part of the PLC consultation at our department.

Conclusion  Educational tools, including a leaflet explaining SSE and counselling given within previous PLC visits, seem to play a crucial role in promoting SSE habits in subjects followed at a specialized PLC consultation.