The skin we are in--knowledge and practices regarding skin cancer in pre-clinical medical students

Document Type



Medical College Pakistan


Objective: To assess the level of knowledge about skin cancer in youth and to explore the influence of gender and system of education on their knowledge and practices.MATERIALS AND Methods: A questionnaire-based study was conducted at The Aga Khan University Medical College (AKUMC), on Year 2 pre-clinical medical students. Descriptive analyses to examine the frequency distribution, chi-square test and factor analysis were applied using SPSS.Results: Seventyone students participated in the study; 90% scored > 55% in the questions regarding knowledge of Malignant melanoma (MM), whereas in the questions assessing practice only 11% of the respondents scored > 52%. They were largely unaware that appearance of a new mole is a risk factor for MM (56% respondents incorrect) and that skin cancer is one of the most common cancers (54% respondents incorrect). 73% reported being sunburned at least once during childhood and 40% suffered sunburns at least once this summer, which points to the inadequacy of sun protection. The risk of MM may double if severe sunburns are experienced during childhood. Education system and gender did not affect the knowledge and practices. The popular sources of learning about skin cancer were magazines (52%) followed by television (42%).CONCLUSION: There is a need for epidemiological studies in Pakistani population regarding skin cancer. For preventing excessive solar exposure which leads to sunburns, we recommend interventions like a Pilot Program for photoprotection education and Sun Awareness Week to improve knowledge and sun protection behavior.


Journal of Pakistan Medical Association