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New online training helps GPs deliver best skin cancer advice

Monday 15 August, 2011

Skin cancer prevention, early detection and management are the focus of a new online active learning module (ALM) created by Cancer Council Victoria (SunSmart and GP programs), in conjunction with ThinkGP.

The new Category 1, RACGP-accredited ALM is available on the Think GP website and is suitable for GPs across Australia.

The online training will guide GPs through the epidemiology of skin cancers in Australia, skin cancer prevention, UV radiation and vitamin D awareness, the diagnosis and management of melanoma, and the most common non-melanoma skin cancers.

SunSmart Manager, Sue Heward, said: "Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world and skin cancers are by far the most common cancers managed by GPs in Australia with over 1 million patient encounters per year for skin cancer.

"This new resource will provide GPs with valuable insights into prevention and early detection, allowing them to give their patients the best possible treatment. The use of case studies and actual clinical images provides a unique, interactive learning opportunity for GPs to become thoroughly acquainted with the nature of skin cancers in Australia."

"Tragically more than 1830 people die a year from skin cancer. Yet skin cancer remains one of Australia's most preventable cancers and over 95% of skin cancers can be successfully treated if found early," Ms Heward said.

The online course comprises of three modules

  1. biopsy techniques, skin cancer prevention and vitamin D,
  2. diagnosis and management of non-melanoma skin cancers and
  3. diagnosis and management of melanoma.

 On completion of the module, participants should be able to:

  • Describe the clinical diagnosis and management of the most common skin cancers in Australia.
  • Relate the epidemiology and anatomical distribution of the most common skin cancers in Australia.
  • Identify clinical and histopathological features of lesions indicating the need for specialist referral.
  • Select biopsy techniques for suspicious lesions and know the appropriate excision margins for melanoma according to Breslow thickness.
  • Improve patient safety by appreciating the importance of a systematic approach to a full skin examination and educating patients regarding skin cancer prevention.
  • Discuss UV index and SunSmart UV alert with patients and provide advice about the right amount of sun exposure and sun protection required to assist vitamin D levels.

The ALM takes approximately six hours to complete. Participants can access and exit activities at their convenience.

Lead authors are Dr Sarah McDonald, Clinical Fellow, Victorian Melanoma Service and Dr Alvin Chong, Senior Lecturer in Dermatology, University of Melbourne.