Australia faces a looming skills shortage among doctors able to diagnose and treat skin cancer, with melanoma cases expected to rise by around 50% over the next 20 years globally, an expert says in public health.
- Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world
- Skin cancers impose the highest costs of all cancers on the Australian healthcare system
- Training GPs in best practice in skin cancer care is the most cost-effective way to cope with rising caseloads
Michael Kimlin, director of the Skin Cancer College Australasia (SCCA), called for a national system of accreditation and standards covering the training of general practitioners in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer, given the expected “tsunami” of case.
He will moderate a panel discussion on the issue at the annual Australasian Skin Cancer Congress on the Gold Coast on Friday.
Research published in the journal JAMA Dermatology in March estimates that the number of new cases of melanoma worldwide will increase to 510,000 by 2040, from around 325,000 in 2020, an increase of around 50%.
Global deaths are expected to rise from 57,000 to 96,000 over the next two decades, a peak of 68%.
Over 16,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed in Australia each year and approximately 1,300 Australians die of skin cancer each year.
‘Strong national standards’ are needed for GPs
Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world.
Professor Kimlin, a Queensland University of Technology epidemiologist and skin cancer researcher, said training a workforce of GPs in best practice skin cancer care skin remained the most cost-effective way to deal with the rising number of cases in the Australian population.
“It is essential that we work with the new Federal Minister of Health to create a national system of accreditation and standards so that consumers can easily identify the qualifications of their practitioner and be sure that the practice in which these doctors work respects strong national standards,” he said. mentioned.
“Post-graduation training is really important because that’s how most skin cancers are detected – people with coughs or knee pain, or whatever else they want to discuss with their GP, and during they’re there, they go, “Oh, could you look at that place on my leg?”
Prof Kimlin said skin cancers impose the highest costs of all cancers on the Australian healthcare system and that prevention and early detection remain the most cost-effective means of reducing the growing financial burden.
A recent study by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Health Economist Associate Professor Louisa Gordon – one of the presenters at the three-day conference – found that the average first-year melanoma treatment costs per patient ranged from ‘about $650 for early-stage disease to over $100,000 for late-stage disease.
The SCCA operates an accreditation program for general practitioners, allowing patients to identify physicians who have completed significant additional education and undergone evaluation in the diagnosis, treatment and management of skin cancer.
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