Doctors' recognition and management of melanoma patients' risk: An Australian population-based study
Madronio CM, Armstrong BK, Watts CG, Goumas C, Morton RL, Curtin A, Menzies SW, Mann GJ, Thompson JF, Cust AE.
Guidelines recommend that health professionals identify and manage individuals at high risk of developing melanoma, but there is limited population-based evidence demonstrating real-world practices.
A population-based, observational study was conducted in the state of New South Wales, Australia to determine doctors' knowledge of melanoma patients' risk and to identify factors associated with better identification and clinical management.
Data were analysed for 1889 patients with invasive, localised melanoma in the Melanoma Patterns of Care study. This study collected data on all melanoma diagnoses notified to the state's cancer registry during a 12-month period from 2006 to 2007, as well as questionnaire data from the doctors involved in their care.
Three-quarters (74%) of patients had doctors who were aware of their risk factor status with respect to personal and family history of melanoma and the presence of many moles. Doctors working in general practice, skin cancer clinics and dermatology settings had better knowledge of patients' risk factors than plastic surgeons. Doctors were 15% more likely to know the family history of younger melanoma patients (<40 years) than of those ≥80 years (95% confidence interval 4-26%). Early detection-related follow-up advice was more likely to be given to younger patients, by doctors aware of their patients' risk status, by doctors practising in plastic surgery, dermatology and skin cancer clinic settings, and by female doctors.
Both patient-related and doctor-related factors were associated with doctors' recognition and management of melanoma patients' risk and could be the focus of strategies for improving care.