GPs told to take photos of suspected skin cancers on their PHONES to reduce referrals

General practitioners told to take photos of suspected moles on their PHONE before sending patients for referral

  • The scheme applies to general practitioners who work in four local areas in North East England
  • Specialists will view photos and make an emergency appointment
  • The brains behind the project claim that they receive 150 urgent referrals per week

GPs have been told to take photos of suspected moles on their phones before referring patients to a skin cancer specialist.

Under new plans, GPs working in four areas in North East England must take three photos on their mobile phones and then send them to a consultant for review.

The specialist can then offer the patient an urgent or routine appointment or decide that there is no cause for concern.

The new system comes after the clinical commissioning groups behind the project claimed that they received around 150 urgent referrals each week, with most patients not having cancer.


GPs have been told to take photos of birthmarks on their phones before referring patients to a specialist. The scheme has been rolled out in four areas of North East England (stock)

GPs have been told to take photos of birthmarks on their phones before referring patients to a specialist. The scheme has been rolled out in four areas of North East England (stock)

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer because it most likely spreads to other organs.

The most common sign of the disease is the appearance of a new birthmark or a change in an existing spot, such as growing, becoming irregular in shape or bleeding.

In 2015, 15,906 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the UK, according to statistics from Cancer Research UK.

And in the US, according to the American Cancer Society, about 96,480 new cases are expected to be diagnosed this year.

The new schedule would help specialists to rank patients by severity, with those who need it more likely to get an appointment.


It must also prevent patients from being seen unnecessarily. GPs can still ask patients for a specialist, even if a consultant gives them & # 39; all free & # 39; has given.

NHS North Durham CCG; NHS Durham Dales; NHS Easington and Sedgefield CCG; and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust are leading the project.

But the schedule is not without critics.

One doctor told wrist: & # 39; Our CCG has decided to further increase our workload with this extra step before an urgent referral to skin cancer can be made.

& # 39; In addition to the fact that I am increasing the workload of already overburdened general practitioners, I am concerned that it may be possible to delay the diagnosis of skin cancer by making the referral process unnecessarily bureaucratic.


& # 39; For example, we were told that if a photo is not uploaded within 24 hours of a referral, it may be rejected. & # 39;

Dr. However, George Rae – chief executive of Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC – supports the move, provided there are no technological issues.

He believes that the process will speed up patient diagnosis, with those who need it most being seen sooner.

Although Dr. Rae admits that images from mobile phones may not be clear enough to draw accurate conclusions, the schedule requires doctors to take the photo next to a dermatoscope.

This is a handheld instrument that enlarges an area up to ten times. Doctors routinely use dermatoscopes to accurately examine the skin.


According to Pulse, NHS South Tyneside CCG would also consider the schedule.

However, it is assumed that the scheme will lead to longer GP appointments. And there is no financing available to support this extra workload.

Allegedly, this issue has been raised with the local medical committees.

A spokesperson for the CCG & # 39; s said, "Digital technology is increasingly being used in the NHS and there are indications that this improves patient experience.

& # 39; This specific technology is already being used successfully in other trusts.


"We have training and other support to help with the first implementation and will follow the program.

& # 39; Our priority is to ensure that patients receive the care they need in the most suitable place and as quickly as possible. & # 39;


Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It happens after the DNA in skin cells is damaged (usually due to harmful UV rays) and then not repaired, so it causes mutations that can form malignant tumors.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 91,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2018 and that more than 9,000 people are expected to die from it.

Approximately 15,900 new cases occur every year in the UK, according to 2,285 Britons who died of the disease in 2016, according to Cancer Research UK statistics.


  • Exposure to the sun: UV and UVB rays from the sun and tanning beds are harmful to the skin
  • Moles: the more moles you have, the greater the risk of melanoma
  • Skin type: Previous skin has a higher risk of melanoma
  • Hair color: red heads are more at risk than others
  • Personal history: if you have ever had melanoma, you are more likely to get it again
  • Family history: if previous family members have been diagnosed, this increases your risk


This can be done by removing the entire part of the tumor or by removing the skin layer by layer from the surgeon. When a surgeon removes it layer by layer, this helps them figure out exactly where the cancer ends, so they don't have to remove more skin than necessary.

The patient may decide to use a skin graft if the operation has left a discoloration or mark.

  • Immunotherapy, radiation or chemotherapy:

This is necessary if the cancer reaches stage III or IV. That means that the cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body.


the appearance

  • Use sunscreen and do not burn
  • Avoid sunbathing outside and in beds
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside
  • Keep newborns out of the sun
  • Examine your skin every month
  • Go to your doctor for a skin examination every year

Source: Skin Cancer Foundation and American Cancer Society

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