Reducing risk for developing melanoma and other skin cancers

Reducing risk for developing melanoma and other skin cancers


Compared with most other cancers, rates of melanoma and other skin cancers continue to increase, especially in young people. Skin cancer risk increases in those who intentionally tan, and those who do not consistently use sun protection strategies when they are out in the sun. Our projects use innovative strategies for communicating skin cancer risks using genetic information that is relevant to the general population, including those with a range of skin types. Our goal is to understand the processes by which individuals use this information to enhance their motivation for sun protection and avoidance of tanning.

Some example projects are:

Project 1: SOMBRA: Motivating Skin Cancer Risk Using Genetic Information

Dr. Hay and her collaborators have recently completed a randomized controlled trial to examine the uptake, comprehension, and utility of genomic testing for skin cancer risk in the general population in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This study is revealing that primary care participants are quite interested in skin cancer genetic information, and that they believe that such information may motivate them to engage in more sun protection. We are continuing to examine this dataset, and are planning follow up studies to extend this testing to individuals who engage in intentional tanning behaviors, including college students. Dr. Hay and her collaborators are exploring the receptivity and uptake of skin cancer genetic testing among those with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer. These individuals are at risk for developing further skin cancers, including melanoma, but do not necessarily adhere to recommendations for sun protection.

  • Hay JL, Kaphingst KA, Buller D, Schofield E, Meyer White K, Sussman A, Guest D, Dailey YT, Robers E, Schwartz MR, Li Y, Hunley K, Berwick M. Behavioral and psychological outcomes associated with skin cancer genetic testing in Albuquerque primary care. Cancers. 2021; 13(16), 4053.
  • Hay JL, Zielaskowski, Meyer White K, Kaphingst K, Robers E, Guest D, Sussman A, Talamantes Y, Schwartz M, Rodriquez VM, Li Y, Schofield E, Bigney J, Hunley K, Buller D, Berwick M. Interest and uptake of MC1R testing for melanoma risk in a diverse primary care population: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Dermatology. 2018; 154(6):684-93. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5999534.
  • Hay JL, Meyer White K, Sussman A, Kaphingst K, Guest D, Schofield E, Dailey YT, Robers E, Schwartz MR, Zielaskowski K, Li Y, Buller D, Hunley K, Berwick M. Psychosocial and cultural determinants of interest and uptake of skin cancer genetic testing in diverse primary care. Public Health Genomics. 2019:1-11. Epub 2019/08/23. PubMed PMID: 31437847.

Project 2: Tanning in College Students

Dr. Hay and Dr. Hamilton are conducting a series of studies examining the ways in which young people receive excessive exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation in college students as well as the United States general population. Our work has shown that indoor tanning rates have been declining overall. However, rates of outdoor tanning, and sunburn, continue to be high in both the general population, and young people. Our ongoing studies are examining these patterns of exposure, with an eye towards specific interventions that may be needed to address such patterns.

  • Bowers JM, Geller AC, & Hay JL. (2019, May). Indoor tanning, sunscreen use, and cancer risk perceptions: Trend analysis of HINTS 2007-2018. Paper presented at the NCI HINTS Data Users Conference, Bethesda, MD.
  • Hay JL, Riley KE, Geller AC. Tanning and teens: Is indoor exposure the tip of the iceberg? Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 2017; 26(8):1170-74. PMCID PMC5626009.