CHICAGO -- Even couples that have been together for years may be embarrassed to let a spouse or partner see their less than perfect bodies naked in bright light. That shyness can hamper a couple's willingness to do total body skin exams on each other to check for a new or recurring melanoma. Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, can appear in more than one spot so these checks are important.
"I had a woman tell me, 'I don't want my husband seeing all my cellulite and fat rolls'," said June K. Robinson, M.D., a professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern Universitys Feinberg School of Medicine. "Some women have issues about their spouses seeing their bodies."
In new research, Robinson found couples with close, supportive relationships were able to leap the self-conscious hurdle and perform regular, thorough skin checks on each other. Her findings are published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Couples who perform these skin self-examinations increase their chances of finding a new melanoma earlier. "When they're treated at an earlier stage in the disease, they have a much lower mortality from melanoma," Robinson said.
Melanoma causes 8,000 deaths a year in the U.S. An estimated 62,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year.
The study participants included 130 melanoma survivors who had learned how to do skin self-exams either alone or with their partners. Couples with close bonds were about three times more likely to perform the skin exams than those who didn't have strong bonds. Patients who reported the quality of their relationships with their partners as below average were the least likely to perform routine skin self-exams.
Robinson's findings build on a previous study last year in which she reported melanoma survivors who learned skin self-exams with their partners were more likely to consistently perform the exams. The new study explains
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