Skin biopsies of pigmented skin lesions performed by general practitioners and hospital specialists

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The performance of skin biopsies by general practitioners has been examined in several recent studies. The aim of this study was to examine the difference between skin biopsies of pigmented skin lesions taken by general practitioners and those taken by hospital specialists. Reviewing all histopathology records at one hospital over a five year period revealed that there were 1000 patients who had had skin biopsies. General practitioners had carried out skin biopsies for 55% of these patients. Hospital specialists excised significantly more lesions that had increased in size (P < 0.001) or changed in colour (P < 0.001). General practitioners excised more lesions that had bled (P < 0.001). Hospital specialists excised more of the 15 melanomas diagnosed (80%) (P < 0.05), and general practitioners excised more squamous papillomas (P < 0.01). Forty per cent of melanomas excised were not suspected by the clinician. General practitioners were able to detect the majority of suspicious lesions, but because of the uncertainty of clinical diagnosis, all specimen's should be submitted for histopathological diagnosis. It is important that future general practitioners are trained in both the diagnostic and technical aspects of skin biopsy if they intend to perform this minor operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-201
Number of pages3
JournalThe British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners
Issue number370
Publication statusPublished - May 1993


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy/standards
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Practice/standards
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Hospitals, Military/statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital/standards
  • Melanoma/pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'/statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Skin Neoplasms/pathology
  • United Kingdom


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