Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 675–679 | Cite as

Illness-Related Distress in Women with Clinically Localized Cutaneous Melanoma

  • Thomas M. Atkinson
  • Nikki S. Noce
  • Jennifer Hay
  • Brian T. Rafferty
  • Mary S. Brady



Women may experience distress or changes in their quality of life following treatment for early-stage melanoma. In order to plan future interventions and identify areas of primary concern, we conducted a cross-sectional survey to describe the experiences of women treated for clinically localized melanoma.


We examined quality of life, levels of distress, appearance perceptions, body image, fear of recurrence, and reproductive concerns in 100 patients (age 21–90 years, M = 54.34 years). Most (61 %) had melanoma of the extremity, with a median depth of 1.1 mm (range, 0–10.5 mm).


Significant depressive symptomatology occurred in 10 % of patients, and 12 % reported a clinically established high level of intrusive thoughts related to melanoma. Quality-of-life scores indicated more disruption on psychological, compared with social and physical functioning. Also, 64 % of women rated their appearance as worse post-treatment; 23 % were unsatisfied with the appearance of the surgical site. Recurrence concerns indicated significant worry about health and death. Most patients (>85 %) were not concerned about fertility, but 52 % worried that future children would have an increased risk of cancer.


Some women treated for clinically localized melanoma reported high levels of distress associated with their altered body image and fear of recurrence. Improvements in patient education prior to surgical intervention may reduce the distress associated with the diagnosis and treatment of melanoma.


Melanoma Body Image Breast Cancer Survivor Cutaneous Melanoma Distal Extremity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This data was collected as part of NCT00745862. This publication acknowledges Grant No. NCI P30 CA08748, which provides partial support for the Behavioral Research Methods Core used in conducting this investigation. The findings in this manuscript were partially reported at the Seventh Annual International Melanoma Congress, Sydney, Australia, November 2010.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas M. Atkinson
    • 1
  • Nikki S. Noce
    • 2
  • Jennifer Hay
    • 1
  • Brian T. Rafferty
    • 3
  • Mary S. Brady
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.New York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Surgery, Gastric and Mixed Tumor ServiceMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA

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