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Taskforce calls for better GP melanoma awareness

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs need better training to diagnose melanomas, according to a skin cancer campaign group.

The melanoma taskforce, a group of GPs, MPs and NHS experts, recommended ‘that GPs should receive more training in dermatology and that mandatory training in how to recognise melanoma’ as one of the recommendations of their 2015 Skin Cancer Visions Report.

A survey of the taskforce members found Half the members of the taskforce felt that GPs received no more teaching on dermatology now than in 2007.

This, the report said, ‘raises serious questions about the ability of primary care practitioners such as GPs to diagnose potential malignancies and refer patients for further treatment. Often it is not about the GP being able to make a diagnosis there and then, but knowing the danger signs to look for in moles and taking the appropriate course of action.’

Dr Stephen Hayes, a GPSI in Dermatology and a member of the taskforce said: ‘GPs do not always have adequate training to enable them to reliably diagnose potential malignancies and refer patients appropriately for further treatment.

‘Many GPs may not know the danger signs to look for in moles which is why we feel that better training and education in skin cancer needs to be robustly addressed in the curriculums for all clinical students, including medical, nursing and pharmacist students as well as other healthcare professionals, such as chiropodists.

‘However, this will take many years to filter through. To meet current needs, existing GPs should be encouraged to use web-based learning tools to improve their lesion recognition skills.’

GPs need better training on diagnosing melanoma, the taskforce says