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Doctors share skin cancer expertise

PICTURED, from left: Dr Dan Cottingham, Suzanne Bennett (Scarborough and Ryedale CCG), Professor Steve Leveson (York Against Cancer), Dr Elizabeth Blakeway, Julie Russell, Dr Stuart Parker, Dr Andy Muinonen-Martin, Dr Angana Mitra and Dr Peter Billingsley (Scarborough and Ryedale CCG)

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.

Dermatoscopes 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.

Dermatoscopes 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.

The 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 time.

“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.”

Julie 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.”

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