Intended for healthcare professionals

Pitfalls in diagnosing melanomas

With an incidence that is four times higher than it was in the 1970s and still increasing, melanoma is now the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with 13,348 new cases reported in 2011. Between 1995–2009, one third of all legal claims in England relating to dermatology pertained to misdiagnosis, and of these, three-quarters were related to skin cancer. The accuracy of clinical diagnosis ranges from 29% to 88%, and is dependent on the experience of the dermatologist. For instance, GPs may only see a malignant melanoma once every five years, some even less frequently, and are therefore less likely to make an accurate diagnosis. In the UK, the single most common reason for patients to visit their doctor is skin disease, and yet it is rare for medical students to receive more than ten days of dermatology teaching, even less at post-graduate level.
Dermatology in practice 2014; 20(4): 11–12
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