Global Journal of Surgery
ISSN (Print): 2379-8742 ISSN (Online): 2379-8750 Website: Editor-in-chief: Baki Topal
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Global Journal of Surgery. 2021, 9(1), 1-12
DOI: 10.12691/js-9-1-1
Open AccessArticle

Mapping Melanoma with Google – A Record Breaking Summer and Insights into Public Awareness Using Google Trends

Mohammad Mohammad1, Saul Crandon1 and Rowan Pritchard-Jones2,

1Burns and Plastics Department, Whiston Hospital, Liverpool, United Kingdom

2John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, United Kingdom

Pub. Date: July 27, 2021

Cite this paper:
Mohammad Mohammad, Saul Crandon and Rowan Pritchard-Jones. Mapping Melanoma with Google – A Record Breaking Summer and Insights into Public Awareness Using Google Trends. Global Journal of Surgery. 2021; 9(1):1-12. doi: 10.12691/js-9-1-1


Introduction: UK melanoma incidence is continuing to rise, resulting in a growing economic burden to the NHS and wider economy. Public awareness campaigns have aimed to tackle this issue, yet the real-world impact on the UK population is poorly understood. Google Trends is a tool that identifies search interest patterns by keywords, incidence and geography. The study aim is to characterise UK and international search trends for skin cancer, tanning methods and sun protection. Methods: Google Trends was systematically searched using terms associated with artificial UV tanning, sun protection and skin lesions, including cancer. The searches compared the UK to Australia and the USA (2004-2018). Results: Search terms of artificial UV tanning (“sunbed”, “tanning bed” and “tanning salon”) peak annually during May, whereas the highest volume of searches for sun prophylaxis (“sun cream”, “sunscreen”, “sun protection”) and skin lesions (“mole”, “skin cancer”) occurs during June. Troughs appear from November to January. Australia and the USA’s sun protection searches occur before summer peaks. Conclusions: Skin cancer-related searches occur on a predictable cycle, peaking during summer and declining over winter. The UK interest in tanning peaks during late spring/early summer, not traditionally targeted for campaigning, whilst skin cancer searches peak mid-to-late summer. This is likely post-sun damage. Australians search for skin cancer advice in their spring, supporting their well-studied culture of skin cancer awareness. These lessons can inform UK health policy. Google Trends is useful for characterising search interest, which may reflect public awareness.

Google trends melanoma United Kingdom UK Skin cancer UV

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