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Teledermatology Improves Skin Cancer Outcomes

Times to diagnosis and to surgical treatment are significantly shorter in teledermatology referrals

FRIDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- In the management of skin cancer, teledermatology referral leads to clinical outcomes that equal or even surpass those of conventional referral, according to a report published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Jennifer L. Hsiao, of the University of California San Francisco, and a colleague conducted a chart review of 169 patients who had been treated for skin cancer at a Veterans Affairs medical center. Of these patients, 45.6 percent were conventional referrals and 54.4 percent were teledermatology referrals. The teledermatology approach allows patients who have no local access to a dermatologist to have digital images of their skin lesions transmitted by their primary care provider to a dermatologist at another location for evaluation and consultation.

Compared to conventional referrals, the researchers found that teledermatology referrals had significantly shorter mean time intervals for initial consult completion (4 days versus 48 days), biopsy (38 days versus 57 days), and surgery (104 days versus 125 days). They also found that teledermatology consults were associated with fewer pre-surgical dermatology clinic visits.

"Clinical outcomes in skin cancer management via teledermatology, as measured by times to diagnosis and to surgical treatment, can be comparable to, if not better than, management by conventional referrals for remotely located patients," the authors conclude.

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