Evaluation of aid to diagnosis of pigmented skin lesions in general practice: controlled trial randomised by practice

DR English*, RC Burton, CB del Mar, Robert J Donovan, Paul D Ireland, Geoff Emery

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives To determine whether an aid to the diagnosis of pigmented skin lesions reduces the ratio of benign lesions to melanomas excised in general practice.

Design Controlled trial randomiscd by practice.

Setting General practices in Perth, Western Australia.

Participants 468 general practitioners in 223 practices.

Interventions Intervention practices were given an algorithm and instant camera to assist with the diagnosis of pigmented skin lesions. All practices were given national guidelines on managing melanoma.

Main outcome measures Ratio of benign pigmented lesions to melanomas excised. Analyses conducted with and without inclusion of seborrhoeic keratoses.

Results At baseline the ratios of benign to malignant lesions were lower in the intervention group than in the control group. During the trial period the ratios were higher in the intervention group (19:1 v 17:1 without seborrhoeic keratoses and 29:1 v 26:1 with seborrhoeic keratoses). After adjustment for patients' age, sex, and socioeconomic status, the ratio was 1.02 times higher (95% confidence interval 0.68 to 1.51, P=0.94) in the intervention group when seborrhoeic keratoses were not included and 1.03 times higher (0.71 to 1.50, P=0.88) when seborrhoeic keratoses were included. General practitioners in the intervention group were less likely than those in the control group to excise the most recent pigmented skin lesion they managed (22% v 48%, P

Conclusions Provision of the algorithm and camera did not decrease the ratio of benign pigmented skin lesions to melanomas excised by general practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-378B
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Medical Journal
Issue number7411
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


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