What are young people and their families’ experiences of melanoma?

Dr Wendy McInally, Open University

Skin cancer, also known as malignant melanoma, is the third most common cancer in teenagers and young adults within the United Kingdom and the number of new cases increases every year. Early diagnosis is vital to prevent spread of the disease and improve survival outcomes. The main treatment is surgery, and chemotherapy if the cancer has progressed. Young people are a unique group in society, no longer children but not yet fully adults with all the independence and responsibilities this brings. It is important to hear their voices so that we can offer them the right care and support. 

Skin cancer treatments can cause scarring and affect the psychological and social recovery of the young person and that of their family. Evidence suggests that the family continue to play a significant role in supporting young people with cancer. However, there isn’t much research that explores the experiences of skin cancer in this age group and that of their family. 

Dr Wendy McInally and her team at the Open University plan interview young people aged 16 to 26 years of age who are living with skin cancer to understand their experiences and that of their family during and after treatment.  

The researchers aim to recruit up to 15 young people from two different hospitals in England, who will be interviewed for up to 90 minutes. The interviews will be recorded to allow for accurate analysis. Each young person will also nominate a family member and they will all be invited to take part in a focus group.  
The findings will help develop the teenage and young adult cancer service, and create information to help young people with skin cancer and their families. 

Project details

Project title: Young lives interrupted by melanoma: exploring the experiences within a relational context
Lead investigator: Dr Wendy McInally, Open University
Award: £29,909.43

Funded by TYAC 
Awarded July 2022