The impact of subspecialization and dermatoscopy use on accuracy of melanoma diagnosis among primary care doctors in Australia

Cliff Rosendahl*, Gail Williams, Diann Eley, Tobias Wilson, Greg Canning, Jeffrey Keir, Ian McColl, David Wilkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Dermatoscopy improves accuracy of melanoma diagnosis, but the impact of subspecialization in skin cancer practice among general practitioners on melanoma diagnostic accuracy is not known. Objective: To assess the impact of dermatoscopy use and subspecialization on the accuracy of melanoma diagnosis by general practitioners. Methods: We did a prospective study on the Skin Cancer Audit Research Database and measured melanoma 'number needed to treat' (NNT), with 21,900 lesions excised to diagnose 2367 melanomas. Results: Melanoma NNT fell from a high of 17.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] 14.5-20.7) among general practitioners with a generalist practice to 9.4 (CI 8.9-10.1) among those with a specific interest in skin cancer, and 8.5 (CI 8.1-9.0) among those practicing only skin cancer medicine (P<.0001). Melanoma NNT fell from a high of 14.6 (CI 12.0-18.6) among dermatoscopy low/non-users to 10.9 (CI 9.8-12.4) among medium users, and 8.9 (CI 8.6-9.3) among high users (P<.0001). The association between NNT and practice type remained (P<.0001) when adjusted for dermatoscopy use and other variables. The association between NNT and dermatoscopy use disappeared (P = .41) when adjusted for practice type and other variables. Limitations: There is selection bias with respect to participating doctors and completeness and accuracy of data are not independently verified in the Skin Cancer Audit Research Database (SCARD). Conclusions: General practitioners who subspecialize in skin cancer have a higher use of dermatoscopy and diagnose melanoma with greater accuracy than their generalist counterparts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)846-852
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Volume67
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Audit
  • Dermatoscopy
  • Dermoscopy
  • General practice
  • Melanoma
  • NNE
  • NNT
  • Number needed to excise
  • Number needed to treat
  • Subspecialization

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