A loving partner can save you from skin cancer

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Washington, May 21 : Shy about showing your body to your spouse? Well, then you won't only have to worry about him not seeing your love handles, but also about the most deadly form of skin cancer going undetected, warn researchers.

According to scientists, coyness can hamper a couple's willingness to do total body skin exams on each other to check for a new or recurring melanoma.

Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, can appear in more than one spot so these checks are important.

"I had a woman tell me, 'I don't want my husband seeing all my cellulite and fat rolls'," said June K. Robinson, M.D., a professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

"Some women have issues about their spouses seeing their bodies," Robinson said.

In new research, Robinson found couples with close, supportive relationships were able to leap the self-conscious hurdle and perform regular, thorough skin checks on each other.

Couples who perform these skin self-examinations increase their chances of finding a new melanoma earlier.

"When they're treated at an earlier stage in the disease, they have a much lower mortality from melanoma," Robinson said.

The study participants included 130 melanoma survivors who had learned how to do skin self-exams either alone or with their partners. Couples with close bonds were about three times more likely to perform the skin exams than those who didn't have strong bonds.

Patients who reported the quality of their relationships with their partners as below average were the least likely to perform routine skin self-exams.

In a total body exam, a person is asked to lie on a bed while a partner checks areas commonly covered by a bathing suit.

"Melanoma can appear places where the sun never shined. There's a fear of lying there naked and vulnerable when someone you care about is seeing you in not the most flattering light," Robinson said.

"A couple that is in sync with each other is going to take this new experience and support and reassure each other and get over the modesty issues," Robinson said.

"A couple that isn't in sync won't have the ability to support each other as they take on this novel assignment. They are going to find it stressful and are going to start to fight. I've seen it in happen in front of me," she added.

She encourages people to open up and communicate about the exam in a moment when it's not threatening.

The study is published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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