Unlike most cancer types, melanoma incidence has been increasing over the past 30 years in the United States. The unique characteristics of melanoma argue for research that captures the specific issues faced by melanoma survivors. Studies of long-term melanoma survivors are lacking, and the survivorship research to date has been limited by the inability to make comparisons with a population control group. The goal of this dissertation was to document the long-term effects of a melanoma diagnosis and treatment on survivors and compare their quality of life and health behaviors with population controls. First, a series of focus groups were conducted to describe the breadth of experiences among melanoma survivors, focusing on the experience at diagnosis, ongoing physical, emotional and social concerns, and behavioral changes since diagnosis (Manuscript 1). Based on these data, a comprehensive questionnaire to address the quality of life issues faced by melanoma survivors was designed and tested. Finally a cross-sectional study of melanoma survivors and population controls was conducted. The goal was to collect data to evaluate the impact of melanoma on long-term survivorship focusing on quality of life (Manuscript 2) and sun exposure and protection behaviors (Manuscript 3). A total of 592 melanoma survivors and 518 controls completed the survey. Results indicate that long-term survivors of melanoma reported similar general physical and emotional quality of life as controls. In addition, while they generally reported greater use of sun protection behaviors than controls, a significant subgroup experienced sunburn in the past year, putting them at elevated risk for future melanomas. The data presented in this dissertation suggest that long-term melanoma survivors reported similar quality of life as controls, though opportunities exist to improve their sun exposure and protection behaviors.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.January 2016. Major: Epidemiology. Advisor: DeAnn Lazovich. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 370 pages.
Comparison of quality of life and health behaviors between melanoma survivors and controls.
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