Psychosocial and Cultural Determinants of Interest and Uptake of Skin Cancer Genetic Testing in Diverse Primary Care

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Background: Translational research in genomics has limited reach and requires efforts to broaden access and utility in diverse populations. Skin cancer is common and rates are rising, including among Hispanics. Germline variants in the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene are common in the population and confer moderate risk for melanoma and basal cell cancers across skin types. Feedback about MC1R risk status may promote skin cancer risk awareness and risk reduction. Aims: We examined the level of interest in pursuing MC1R testing, and patterns of interest across skin cancer perceived threat and control attitudes, cultural beliefs (family influence on health, health system distrust, cancer fatalism, skin cancer misconceptions), and health literacy. Methods: We used a study website to inform primary care patients in Albuquerque, NM about the benefits and drawbacks of MC1R testing. Website logon, request of a saliva test kit, and return of the test kit (yes vs. no) were primary assessments of study interest and uptake. Results: Of 499 participants provided with a test offer, 33% requested and returned the test. Lower family influence on participants’ health was an important factor both overall and within ethnicity subgroups, and may indicate that primary care patients interested in skin cancer genetic testing see themselves as proactive health seekers, independent from family encouragement. Lower self-efficacy for skin cancer prevention was also an important characteristic of those who tested. Conclusion: As evidence for common genetic markers for skin cancer accumulates, these findings suggest characteristics of those most likely to pursue genetic testing for skin cancer risk.