Factors influencing the number needed to excise: Excision rates of pigmented lesions by general practitioners

Dallas R English, Chris Del Mar, Robert C Burton

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54 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To identify doctor and patient characteristics associated with excision of benign versus malignant pigmented skin lesions.

Design, setting and participants: Retrospective audit of data on 4741 pigmented skin lesions excised from November 1998 to February 2000 by 468 general practitioners (39% response rate) from 223 practices in Perth, WA. (The data used were from the baseline period of a randomised controlled trial of a diagnostic aid for pigmented skin lesions.)

Main outcome measure: The number needed to treat (NNT), defined as the number of pigmented lesions needed to be excised to identify one melanoma, in relation to demographic characteristics of GPs and patients.

Results: Relatively more benign lesions were excised per melanoma (NNT = 83) in the youngest patients (aged 10-19 years) compared with the oldest (aged greater than or equal to 70) (NNT = 11) (P [trend]

Conclusions: GPs could raise their threshold for excising pigmented lesions in patients who are young, female, or from areas of low socioeconomic status, or if the GPs themselves are recent graduates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-19
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes

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