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Online course improves physicians skill level for detecting skin cancer
Date:11/7/2013

DETROIT Primary care physicians who took an online training course about skin cancer detection significantly improved their skill to properly diagnose and manage benign and malignant lesions, according to a national study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

The physicians' enhanced skill level also led to a reduction in unnecessary referrals to dermatology specialists.

The INFORMED study is believed to be the first of its kind to track physician practice patterns as an outcome of a skin cancer detection training course. INFORMED stands for INternet curriculum FOR Melanoma Early Detection.

Key findings of 54 physicians who took the course:

  • Scores for diagnosing and managing all skin cancer lesions increased 10 percent.
  • Scores for diagnosing benign lesions increased 14 percent.
  • Patient referrals for suspicious lesions or new visits to a dermatology specialist declined as the result of improved detection by primary care physicians.
  • Physicians still retained their improved skill level six months later.

The findings are published online in the November/December issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine at http://www.jabfm.org/content/26/6/648.full

"We all know the demands on a physician's time. But this online course shows that we can empower primary care physicians to know when they themselves can take care of some of these patients and have the confidence in doing so, and not drive up the cost of utilization with unnecessary referrals to a dermatologist," says Melody Eide, M.D., a Henry Ford dermatologist and the study's lead author.

Each year, there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers has increased by nearly 77 percent between 1992 and 2006. Meanwhile, in
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Contact: David Olejarz
David.Olejarz@hfhs.org
313-874-4094
Henry Ford Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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