Skin cancer surgery on referral

Assessing knowledge and safety

Education in skin cancer management


Dixon A, Rosengren H, Connelly T, Dixon J. Education in skin cancer management - Assessing knowledge and safety. Aust Fam Physician 2009;38:557-60.


BACKGROUND: General practitioners manage the majority of skin cancers in Australia. There are a range of training opportunities for, and certifications in, skin cancer management.

METHOD: Between 15 June and 25 June 2008, an online examination was placed on the Australasian College of Skin Cancer Medicine website. Two hundred and forty-five college affiliated doctors were invited by email to complete the examination. Thirty questions were asked pertaining to the management of a hypothetical case study including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

RESULTS: Of 187 doctors who had an active responding email address, 140 (75%) took the examination. From a possible score of 100, the mean score was 84 +/- 16. The median score was 80.

DISCUSSION: Some trends emerged. Longer and more detailed training programs correlated with better subsequent knowledge retention and safety. Two days of training may not make doctors sufficiently safe in skin cancer management; it appeared to improved knowledge, but not to a point where unsafe practice was eliminated.