What use do people make of physicians in checking their skin for cancer?
We administered a questionnaire to 995 people selected randomly from the electoral roll in one coastal region of subtropical Australia. Three-quarters (739) indicated their skin was checked by a physician, by themselves, or both. Among the 15% who were taught to check their skin, 59% learned to do so from physicians. A family physician would be consulted immediately by 40% who found something suspicious, and by 58% after a period of delay. Several factors associated with other indicators of health-seeking behavior, including being told by a physician that there was a special risk of skin cancer, were related to an increased proportion of respondents who were checked by their physicians as well as themselves. In addition to being the main focus of help should a suspicious lesion be found, physicians may have an important role in introducing the public to the process of early detection of skin cancer as well as providing an important function in its actual conduct.