Doctors share skin cancer expertise

Skin cancer
diagnoses in York and North Yorkshire were given a boost when GPs gathered to
learn more about technology that can help them identify potential skin cancers.

More than 40
family doctors from across NHS Vale of York and Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical
Commissioning Groups were shown how to take high-quality photographs of lesions
using regular cameras as well as dermatoscopes, sophisticated pieces of
equipment that can take detailed magnified pictures of moles and skin lesions.

have been bought by York Against Cancer for all GP practices across the Vale of
York, and the charity also funded the dermatoscopy course held at York’s Marriott
Hotel during March.

used in practices in Scarborough and parts of Ryedale have been funded by NHS
Scarborough and Ryedale CCG.

The course
was arranged as part of a quality improvement programme led by both Dr Andy
Muinonen-Martin, Consultant Dermatologist and York Trust Skin Cancer Lead, and
Dr Dan Cottingham, Macmillan GP Cancer and End of Life lead for the Vale of
York CCG.  It was delivered alongside
fellow clinicians Dr Elizabeth Blakeway and Dr Angana Mitra.

The experts
showed GPs how to take three specific images of any doubtful lesion, from a
general overview to a close-up and a specialised dermatoscope image.

photographic procedure meets new guidance issued by the York Teaching Hospitals
NHS Trust so that GPs and hospital doctors can assess lesions and come to an
informed clinical decision about which patients need hospital appointments.

The GPs
learned how to use the photographs to familiarise themselves with different
types of skin cancer. The teaching also emphasised common benign diagnoses that
mimic skin cancer.

It’s hoped
the training will help reduce the number of people who have to attend hospital,
sparing many an anxious wait for further investigations. Those that do need to
be seen can then be sent more efficiently to the correct specialist the first

 “Our emphasis was on improving the quality of
the pictures that GPs take and increasing knowledge about using the
dermatoscopes and interpreting the images,” said Dr Cottingham. “The course was
a big success and we got lots of positive feedback.

“Thanks to
York Against Cancer for providing the funding for this event – we could not
have done it without them.”

Russell, general manager of York Against Cancer, attended the day. “It was
really informative and we hope it will help GPs get the best out of the
equipment we have funded,” she said.

Dr Peter
Billingsley, Associate Chair of NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG, said: “The use
of dermatoscopes in GP practices is transforming the way skin lesions are
investigated and, importantly, many patients no longer need to go through the
anxiety of a hospital wait.

“This was a fantastic course and I’m delighted
to many of my colleagues took the opportunity to attend.”