Australian general practitioners’ attitudes and knowledge of sentinel lymph node biopsy in melanoma management

In Australia, general practitioners (GPs) are the first point of contact for the majority of patients who develop melanoma. In 1992, the sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), which provides information about the presence of metastatic melanoma in the regional lymph node basin was introduced, but adherence to these guidelines have been sub-optimal. Thus, this study explored the knowledge and attitudes of GPs to SLNB. 232 GPs completed a questionnaire and of those, 23 completed interviews. 32% of GPs described themselves as quite or very familiar with the guidelines, and 68% thought that SLNB had an important role in the management of patients with melanoma. However, less than 40% correctly identified the target group for which SLNB is recommended. These results indicate a need for further education and discussion with GPs about the role of SLNB in melanoma management. Going forth, the findings from this study will inform the development, dissemination and evaluation of education strategies and other initiatives to improve GPs’ knowledge of SLNB and ultimately lead to better patient outcomes.

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