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Ever had a skin cancer exam

Codes and Frequencies

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For sample adults, SKNCANX reports whether respondents had ever had their skin checked for cancer by a dermatologist or other doctor.


The 2000 and forward Field Representative's Manuals provided the following definition for cancer:

A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissue and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

The 2000 and 2005 Manuals also provided a definition for "dermatologist," which reads, "A medical doctor specializing in skin care and its diseases."

According to the 2000 and 2005 Field Representative's Manuals, a "skin exam" is a "thorough examination of the skin done by a doctor to detect precancerous or cancerous lesions of the skin."

In 1998 SKNCANX is part of the Cancer Section included in the Sample Adult Prevention Module Supplement. According to the 1998 NHIS Survey Description, this supplement was included "for use by the federal government to determine the Healthy People Objectives for 2010." Couldn't find Healthy People Objectives for 2010, but found "objectives for the nation to reach by the Year 2000"

In 2000 and forward SKNCANX is part of a series of questions on Skin Cancer Screening included in the Cancer Screening section of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). According to Field Representative's Manuals for these years, the purpose of the Cancer Screening questions were to "determine the practices and knowledge of the public with regard to cancer screening practices." The Manuals continued with, "This includes practices that are known to reduce mortality from cancer and some for which evidence of effectiveness is not available." The 2010 Manual added, "The 2010 Cancer Screening Supplement will be the first time questions about having a breast MRI, virtual colonoscopy, and lung x-ray are in the NHIS."

The 2000 and 2015 Field Representative's Manual provided the following statement regarding how the data from the Cancer Screening questions would be used:

This information allows for monitoring changes in screening practices in comparison with earlier NHIS surveys. It also allows for comparisons of practices among subgroups of the population and to examine factors that may influence screening practices. Together, this information will be useful in developing public health and health services programs to increase the use of regular and effective screening.

The 2005 and forward Manuals provided a similarly worded explanation for the use of the data.

In the 2000 Manual, the following statement regarding the purpose of the Skin Cancer Screening section was also provided:

While there is not total agreement on the effectiveness of . . . skin cancer screening exams, some organizations recommend them for people at risk of developing skin cancer such as people with: fair to light skin complexion; personal history of skin cancer; family history of cancer; chronic exposure to the sun; history of sunburns early in life.


While versions of this question before the 2000 survey did not specify that the exam be, "from head to toe," SKNCANX is otherwise generally comparable across survey years. See Survey Text tab.


  • 1992: Half of sample persons age 18+ in quarters 1 and 2, and in 2 weeks of quarter 3 (excluded from CAEP supplement).
  • 1998; 2000; 2005; 2010; 2015: Sample adults age 18+.


  • 1992, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015