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Skin cancer photo triage reduces waiting time

27 January 2009

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A new skin cancer detection system has cut waiting times dramatically in the Forth Valley, from months to days.

Instead of referring a patient with a suspicious mole to a specialist, digital photos are taken and sent to the dermatologist, who then decides whether the patient requires further assessment.

The pilot scheme of the “photo triage” procedure cut the number of people that needed to see a specialist by a third, freeing up more appointments for patients who did need a referral.

The service is being seen as a way of handling the 30% increase in referrals to dermatologists in the past year.

Dr Paul Baughan, one of the GPs overseeing the scheme, said: “GPs try to describe, on referral, what a skin growth looks like, but the additional information that is available from a photograph complements this and allows the specialist to decide upon the best course of management.”

Consultant dermatologist Dr Colin Morton said that the new photo triage offers multiple benefits.

“It means quicker assessment for patients with worrying skin growths, quicker reassurance for those with innocent growths and frees up time for us to see more people,” he said.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

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