Implementation of a skin cancer screening tool in a primary care setting: A pilot study

Date of Completion

January 2009


Health Sciences, Nursing|Health Sciences, Oncology




Skin cancer is increasing in the United States. Melanoma accounts for only 3 to 4% of all skin cancers, but is responsible for the majority of skin cancer deaths. Modifiable risk factors for melanoma include sun exposure, especially to artificial sun sources such as tanning beds. Nurse practitioners in primary care can screen and educate persons at risk for skin cancer, especially melanoma, in the young adult population where the greatest impact could be made. Little is known about intervening in a college health setting by providing nurse practitioners with an increased knowledge base to perform full body skin examinations, assess persons at risk for developing skin cancer, and educate patients in skin self examination and sun protection. ^ The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the need for more extensive assessment and in depth documentation of skin cancer screening at college students' physical exams. A validated screening tool would enhance the patient record and cue the health provider to review, examine, and educate the patient. ^ The goal of this endeavor was to explore if an educational session and use of a screening tool would assist nurse practitioners in identifying at risk individuals for skin cancer. If it is established that this intervention helps reduce the incidence of skin cancer, the intervention can be utilized elsewhere. ^ A quasi-experimental, comparative design was employed. A convenience sample of six nurse practitioners in a northeastern college health setting participated. Data were collected via a pre-test, a post-test following a didactic PowerPoint presentation, and program evaluation utilizing existing instruments. ^ A detailed description of what the six representative nurse practitioners know about skin cancer is provided in the results. Furthermore, their attitudes regarding this screening and use of a specific skin cancer screening documentation tool to guide practice decisions currently and in the future are discussed. There were significant results in improved knowledge in nurse practitioners pre-test and post-test results and documentation. ^