Skin cancer clinics in Australia

Workload profile and performance indicators from an analysis of billing data

David Wilkinson, Deborah A. Askew, Anthony Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To describe the workload profile in a network of Australian skin cancer clinics. Design and setting: Analysis of billing data for the first 6 months of 2005 in a primary-care skin cancer clinic network, consisting of seven clinics and staffed by 20 doctors, located in the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. Main outcome measures: Consultation to biopsy ratio (CBR); biopsy to treatment ratio (BTR); number of benign naevi excised per melanoma (number needed to treat [NNT]). Results: Of 69 780 billed activities, 34 622 (49.6%) were consultations, 19 358 (27.7%) biopsies, 8055 (11.5%) surgical excisions, 2804 (4.0%) additional surgical repairs, 1613 (2.3%) non-surgical treatments of cancers and 3328 (4.8%) treatments of premalignant or non-malignant lesions. A total of 6438 cancers were treated (116 melanomas by excision, 4709 non-melanoma skin cancers [NMSCs] by excision, and 1613 NMSCs non-surgically); 5251 (65.2%) surgical wounds were repaired by direct suture, 2651 (32.9%) by a flap (of which 44.8% were simple flaps), 42 (0.5%) by wedge excision and 111 (1.4%) by grafts. The CBR was 1.79, the BTR was 3.1 and the NNT was 28.6. Conclusions: In this network of Australian skin cancer clinics, one in three biopsies identified a skin cancer (BTR, 3.1), and about 29 benign lesions were excised per melanoma (NNT, 28.6). The estimated NNT was similar to that reported previously in general practice. More data are needed on health outcomes, including effectiveness of treatment and surgical repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-164
Number of pages3
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes

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