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Thursday 27 October 2016 Instagram
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Skin cancer diagnosis 'should move to primary care'

Skin cancer diagnosis 'should move to primary care'

Biopsies for melanoma can be dealt with in primary care without leading to poorer health outcomes, research has shown. 

Patients who have their initial diagnosis excision biopsy in primary care experience fewer hospital admissions and spend less time in hospital if admitted. 

Up to 20% of melanomas diagnosed in the UK are biopsied in primary care. Current UK guidelines state that any skin lesion that could potentially be a melanoma should be referred immediately to secondary care. 

However, the study, published in the British Journal of General Practice showed that there was no difference between receiving a diagnosis from primary care or secondary care. 

Dr Jonathan Botting, RCGP clinical champion for minor surgery said: “I support research that shows that GPs are as capable of undertaking minor surgical procedures as their hospital colleagues. 

"The most difficult part in the initial management of melanoma is not the surgery it is the diagnosis. Improved diagnostic accuracy comes with training and experience. With the incidence of melanoma doubling every 10 years the NHS needs to support suitably skilled GPs being involved in melanoma management as part of an extended, community based, cancer network.”


This is a complex situation; while I agree that having more practitioners, including primary care, competent in diagnosing skin cancers, it is not always true that the diagnosis is the most difficult part. I also agree that smaller skin cancers - which early diagnosis will pick up - are appropriately treated by primary care physicians.

Dr. Susan Lovelle

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