Introduction: Appalachian communities experience elevated rates of cancer incidence and mortality relative to other regions in the U.S. Specifically, melanoma mortality rates are higher in Appalachia compared to the national average, despite comparable incidence rates.

Purpose: To examine differences in self-reported history of skin cancer and prevalence of two UV exposure behaviors between Appalachian and non-Appalachian adults in a nationally representative sample.

Methods: Data are from four cross-sectional cycles of the Health Information National Trends Survey (2011–2014) (N=14,451). We examined sunscreen use and tanning bed use, and self-reported history of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Descriptive and weighted multivariable analyses were conducted to examine sunscreen and tanning bed use, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics.

Results: Approximately 8% of the study sample resided in Appalachia (n=1,015). Self-reported melanoma (0.6%) and non-melanoma (3.2%) skin cancer histories were low among Appalachians and did not differ statistically from non-Appalachians (p>0.05). Only 21.2% of Appalachians reported using sunscreen often or always when going outside for more than one hour on a warm, sunny day compared to 27.4% of non-Appalachians (p<0.05). In separate multivariable logistic regressions, Appalachians reported lower odds of sunscreen use compared to non-Appalachian (OR=0.76, p=0.04), but there were no regional differences in tanning bed use (OR=1.48, p=0.23) when controlling for sociodemographics and general health status.

Implications: Appalachians had comparable histories of self-reported melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer but were less likely to report sunscreen use than non-Appalachians. Enhanced communication efforts to promote sunscreen use and other UV protection behaviors in Appalachia may be valuable.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Recommended Citation

Patel M, Serrano KJ, Rice EL, Thai CL, Blake KD, Vanderpool RC. Skin cancer and UV exposure-related behaviors among Appalachian and non-Appalachian adults. J Appalach Health 2020;2(2):56–66. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0202.06.