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Photographs used to detect cancer

Diagnosing skin cancer could soon be made easier and quicker due to new digital photography which is currently being piloted in Scotland.

Patients in the Forth Valley with problem moles are having them photographed and the images sent to a dermatologist to decide whether further treatment is necessary, rather than automatic referral to a specialist.

This has cut the time from diagnosis to treatment from months to days, with a third of those photographed not requiring any treatment.

Dr Paul Baughan, one of the GPs overseeing the scheme, said: "In general practice, each GP sees dozens of people over a year worried about skin cancer, and it is not always possible to reassure them at the surgery.

"GPs try to describe, on referral, what a skin growth looks like, but the additional information that is available from a photograph complements this and allows the specialist to decide upon the best course of management."

In the past year there has been a 30% increase in referrals to dermatologists, and almost half of all dermatological referrals in the Forth Valley area were suspected cases of skin cancer.

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Forth Valley NHS