The use of an electronic survey undertaken in GP waiting rooms is a practical way to identify patients at increased risk of melanoma, informing a more personalised and targeted approach to screening, Victorian research shows.
Melbourne University researchers say high rates of skin cancer screening are occurring in Australia with little consideration to a person’s melanoma risk.
They therefore conducted a primary care-based study to investigate the feasibility of using a risk stratification tool, MelatoolsQ, based on the Williams melanoma risk prediction model.
Using MelatoolsQ, 1535 (90% of those asked) participants were recruited from two general practices and provided with a survey on an iPad. The information collected included the number of moles and density of freckles on participants arms and the number of severe sunburns before they were 18 years old.
A personalised score was then calculated. The study achieved a high response rate with a low number of patients (200 participants, 13%) needing assistance to complete the tool.
The mean risk score for participants was 15.2 (±SD 9.8). The Williams model estimated between 5% and 19% of the sample were at increased risk.
The researchers said that implementation of this survey in primary care would capture nearly 60% of melanomas, informing a more targeted and frequent screening for prevention and surveillance.
“This study shows it would be potentially feasible to implement this in an Australian general practice setting to support real-time risk stratification and better target melanoma screening and prevention,” said lead author Emily Habgood, a PhD candidate in Professor Jon Emery’s Cancer in Primary Care group, based at the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research.
Identifying and screening only high-risk people for melanoma would be a cost-effective approach to the question of population screening for skin cancer, the authors said.
“These findings will help inform a larger study in the future, in line with national Australian RACGP guidelines recommending that general practitioners identify people at increased risk of melanoma,” she added.
The study is published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology