June 19, 2008

Knowing Melanoma Risk Spurs Screening

People who know their genetic tests confirm an increased risk of developing melanoma are more proactive in skin cancer screening, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute says tests for mutations in the CDKN2A gene can reveal that melanomas run in families.

The study evaluated the intent to follow and the actual practice of skin cancer early detection methods by members of families that carry CDKN2A gene mutations. Study participants were drawn from a group of Utahans who participated in the original CDKN2A gene hunt 10 to 12 years ago.

The study participants knew that their family history might put them at increased risk for melanoma and they had previously received melanoma prevention and screening education.

Before these studies, it was unclear whether reporting the results to family members who have been tested was valuable or potentially harmful to patients, co-principal investigator Dr. Sancy Leachman of the University of Utah School of Medicine says in a statement.

The findings are published in the June issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.