GP diagnosis just as good as skin cancer clinics
GPs in general practices diagnose skin cancers with a similar accuracy to doctors working in skin cancer clinics, new research has shown.A Queensland study based on more than 28,750 patient consultations and over 11,000 skin excisions found there was no significant statistical difference between the two groups in the accuracy of diagnosing skin cancer (MJA 2007;187:215-20).
A separate study published in the same edition of the MJA found that despite rising rates of skin cancer excisions and flap repairs, the rise for GPs paralleled that of specialists.
Researchers found that non-melanoma skin cancer excisions, melanoma excisions and skin flap repairs rose by 16% from 467,676 in 2001 to 557,950 in 2005 (MJA 2007;187:210-14).
The findings followed recent controversy and accusations that GPs and skin cancer clinic doctors were performing unnecessary procedures to claim more lucrative MBS items (MO, 26 January).
A subsequent Professional Services Review (PSR) report published earlier this year investigating GP-led skin cancer clinics revealed that only one doctor had over-serviced for skin flap procedures.
AMA Council of General Practice chair Dr Rod Pearce said the studies confirmed the role of the GP in treating skin cancer.
“A [GP] is someone who can offer a full service to a patient when they walk in, rather than having to send them off to someone else. Excision is a reasonable and appropriate part of general practice,” Dr Pearce said.
Dr Peter Bourne, GP and president of the Skin Cancer Council of Australia, said the research also vindicated the role of skin cancer clinics in diagnosing melanomas.
“This shows that the public is not being duped by skin cancer clinics and skin cancer doctors.”
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