A geographical and temporal analysis of melanoma awareness in an international population


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Ryan Sugrue1
1nil

Abstract

Background

Melanoma awareness has been the focus of several international healthcare campaigns. However, the efficacy of these campaigns has mixed results. Current research is limited to traditional data collection techniques in a small public cohort with no international comparisons. This study utilises the prospectively-maintained Google Trends database as novel marker for population awareness in an international population.  

With this in mind, our aim was to quantify and compare melanoma awareness in Ireland with international standards and its influence on melanoma outcomes.

Method

All melanoma searches on Google between 2004 and January 2017 were included in this study (n>10,000,000). Temporal and geographical trends in search volume were calculated and compared with searches for other types of skin cancers, risk factors and treatment. A subanalysis explored relationships between melanoma searches, healthcare campaigns and melanoma treatment outcomes.

Results

Melanoma is the most commonly searched skin cancer online since 2004. The majority of searches are from Europe. In Ireland, there is a cyclical search increase during summer months(p<0.05). In contrast, Southern Hemisphere searches exhibit no seasonality. Melanoma searches mirrored the search volume for skin cancer and sunburn. A correlation between melanoma searches, Melanoma Awareness Month (p<0.05) and mortality rate (p=0.03) exists, but not with melanoma incidence (p>0.05).

Conclusion

This is the first study to quantify melanoma awareness in an international population over a 13-year period. Seasonal variations in melanoma awareness, particularly in an Irish population, are discordant with the non-cyclical rate of melanoma diagnosis. Healthcare awareness campaigns can use this data to expand their influence.