(HealthDay News) — For primary care providers (PCPs), a web-based course in skin cancer detection improves skills related to recognition and management of skin cancer, according to a study published in the November-December issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Melody J. Eide, M.D., M.P.H., from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and colleagues developed an interactive, web-based course in skin cancer detection for practicing, board-certified PCPs. To evaluate the course, they assessed the ability of participants to diagnose and manage skin cancer using pretests, immediate tests, and six-month posttests. Patient referrals or visits to dermatology and skin biopsies during the six months before and after the course were compared to assess the effect on actual practice patterns.

The researchers found that among the 54 participants (mean age, 50.5 years; 54 percent women) the mean score for appropriate diagnosis and management increased from 36.1 to 46.7 percent (odds ratio, 1.6), with greatest improvement in benign lesions (from 32.1 to 46.3 percent; odds ratio, 1.9). After the course, there were decreases in dermatology referrals for suspicious lesions or new visits by participants’ patients.

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“This course improved skills in practicing PCPs,” the authors conclude. “Improvement was greatest in the diagnosis and appropriate management of benign lesions and dermatology utilization decreased.”

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