Factors influencing skin cancer excision rates in Scottish primary care

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Skin cancer incidence rates are rising in the UK, yet many areas are experiencing a shortage of dermatologists. We sought to compare skin cancer excision rates between general practice (GP) surgeons to identify factors associated with good practice, through a retrospective analysis of GP skin cancer histopathology reports in three Scottish Health Boards over a 4-year period. Postal questionnaires were used to explore factors affecting surgeons’ excision rates. GPs excised 895 skin cancers (4.5% of the 19 853 regional total) during the period. Of the basal cell carcinomas, 308 would be classified as low-risk by current National Institute for Health and Care Excellence criteria. Of the returned questionnaires, 58 accounted for 631 (70.5%) of the excised skin cancers. Analysing completeness of skin cancer excision, there was a statistically significant difference between GPs performing excision on ≥ 11 lesions/month compared with those performing excision on ≤ 10/month. Policymakers may wish to consider systems to facilitate low-risk patients being treated by GPs who undertake frequent surgical procedures.

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