Early Melanoma Detection in Primary Care: Clinical Recognition of Melanoma is Not Enough, One Must Also Learn the Basics

General practitioners (GPs)  play a key role in early melanoma detection, especially in Australia. In order to help GPs dealing with suspicious skin lesions of melanoma, training programs for melanoma diagnosis specifically designed for GPs have been developed. This study aimed to determine whether supplementary teaching improves GPs’ accuracy in diagnosing melanoma. 56 GPs participated in a two hour training course, the first session focused on clinical melanoma recognition, whilst the second session focused on basic knowledge of pigmented skin lesions (PSL). At three separate stages; prior to training, after the first session, and after the second session, GPs were asked to select the malignant or benign nature of 15 clinical images  to assess their diagnostic accuracy. The number of GPs correctly identifying over 50% of the melanomas increased the most after the first session, increasing from 15 to 44 GPs. However, the number of GPs correctly identifying over 50% of the benign PSL only increased after completing the entire training, including the session on basic knowledge of PSL, increasing from 10 GPs to 50 GPs. This suggested that teaching GPs the basics of PSL would especially improve their diagnostic accuracy for benign PSL, which could reduce unnecessary referrals to dermatologists, and also lead to earlier diagnosis. 

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