With Dr. June Robinson's leadership, Project Skin Watch is an educational research study that aims to teach melanoma patients and their partners how to perform accurate skin checks to promote early detection of skin cancer. This novel study was recently awarded a Research Project Grant (RO1) from the National Institutes of Health.
When melanoma is detected in its early stages, the 5-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent. According to Dr. Robinson, if those at high-risk know how to properly conduct skin checks and have a comfort level, they will likely have less anxiety, make fewer unnecessary visits to the doctor for skin checks, and ultimately have lower medical costs. Since only 16 percent of melanomas are found by physicians, direct patient education is especially important. If Dr. Robinson can prove her hypothesis that those at high-risk can learn how to perform accurate skin checks, this study can be expanded to include more academic centers across the nation. Some of the tools within this study, such as the Project Skin Watch Workbook, could be distributed to other study centers and could eventually be converted to the web, an i-pad application, etc.
Within Project Skin Watch, the research team is working to enroll 430 couples in the study over a 2-year window. A 2-year period of time is when most patients have the potential to develop another melanoma. The couple comprises the patient who is at high-risk for melanoma and a partner who is able to attend visits and help the patient perform full-body skin checks. Each patient completes a baseline survey and participates in an in-person intervention or reviews a workbook with his or her partner. Every four months, the patient receives a full skin exam from Dr. Robinson. Patients learn how to use the ABCDE scoring system (1-3 scale for B, C, and D), as well as a magnifying glass and ruler to help view and measure moles.