Students ID more cancers with dermoscopy training

October 3, 2012

Medical students can better identify and diagnose skin cancer after learning how to use a dermatoscope, researchers have found.

Hauppauge, N.Y. - Medical students can better identify and diagnose skin cancer after learning how to use a dermatoscope, researchers have found.

A research team from the regional skin cancer clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, determined dermoscopy training could be useful in all fields of medicine, as melanoma prognosis remains poor and early detection remains the best method to reduce disease burden, MedScape News reports.

The prospective study assessed two groups of second-year medical students at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. One group was given a tutorial on conducting skin cancer exams without dermoscopy. The second group was taught how to use a dermatoscope for skin examinations. Before and after the skin exam training, both groups were given an image-based test.

Overall, the dermoscopy-trained group improved (p<0.001) in their assessment abilities (52 percent correct pretraining vs. 63 percent post-training); while the non-dermoscopy-trained group did not (47 percent pretraining and 46 percent post-training; p=0.50).

Although both groups improved (p<0.001) in the diagnosis of the superficial spreading melanoma, the dermoscopy-trained group improved in the diagnosis of the basal cell carcinoma (p<0.001) and the non-dermoscopy-trained group’s abilities to identify the malignant nature of this lesion appeared to worsen (p<0.001).

“Students receiving the dermoscopy tutorial improve in diagnosis of cutaneous lesions compared with those not receiving the dermoscopy intervention. Teaching (skin cancer examination) with inclusion of dermoscopy may be an effective means of enhancing skin cancer knowledge,” the authors wrote.

The study was published in the September issue of Archives of Dermatology.

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