More general practitioners (GPs) are managing skin cancer patients in Australia, according to a national survey in that country.
The survey findings were published in BMJ Open (2023; 13:e067744). This project was led by researchers at the Daffodil Centre, a joint venture with the University of Sydney and the Cancer Council NSW. More than 15,000 GPs were surveyed over 16 years as part of the BEACH (Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health) study.
Older men make up the majority of individuals turning to GPs to manage skin cancers and related conditions, according to the findings.
As well, researchers found skin cancer-related conditions accounted for 3% of all problems managed in general practice.
Throughout the study, management rates in general practice increased for melanoma and keratinocyte cancers, skin checks, skin lesions, and benign skin growths.
Doctors were more likely to see male patients, aged over 65 years, who lived in Queensland or regional or remote areas, from an English-speaking background and lower socio-economic areas.
The type of skin cancer-related conditions being managed varied by age group. Survey results showed young adults were more likely to be seen by a GP for a mole check or skin check, while those in older age groups were more seen for established skin cancers or their early precursors on sun-damaged skin.
“Skin-cancer-related conditions come in a broad spectrum, and each case is different,” said Professor Anne Cust, senior author of the paper and Deputy Director of the Daffodil Centre, in a press release.
“But our study gives doctors and policymakers a better understanding of who is being affected by these skin cancer-related conditions, where they are being treated, and where we can direct resources and education programs to reduce the number of people affected by these diseases every year.”
Dr. Cust said the findings emphasize how important it is to distribute resources to where they are needed most, especially in rural areas where skin cancer incidence is high but access to specialist care is limited.