To study rates of incomplete excision of basal (BCC) and squamous (SCC) cell cancer by Australian general practitioners with a special interest.
A network of 15 primary care skin cancer clinics across Australia.
Fifty-seven physicians performing excisions of 9417 BCCs and SCCs in a single network of 15 primary care skin cancer clinics across Australia between 2005 and 2007.
Main Outcome Measures
Rates of incomplete excision according to physician, clinic, anatomic location of the lesion, and whether a previous biopsy had been performed.
Four hundred forty-three of 6881 BCCs (6.4%) and 159 of 2536 SCCs (6.3%) were excised incompletely. Incomplete BCC and SCC excisions were more frequent on the head and neck (282 of 2872 excisions [9.8%] and 97 of 861 [11.3%], respectively) than elsewhere. Ears (74 of 388 excisions [19.1%]) and nose (78 of 546 [14.3%]) had the highest rates of incompletely excised BCCs, and ears (26 of 144 excisions [18.1%]) and forehead (20 of 157 [12.7%]) had the highest rates of incompletely excised SCCs. Of all BCC excisions, 67.3% were once-off excisions with no previous biopsy, and these excisions were more likely to be incomplete (odds ratio, 1.73; 95% confidence interval, 1.36-2.20) than those with a previous biopsy. There was, however, substantial variation in frequency of incomplete excision between clinics for BCC (ranging from 3.3% to 24.7%) and SCC (ranging from 0% to 17.2%) and between physicians within clinics (BCC ranging from 0% to 31.1%, and SCC ranging from 0% to 23.5%).
Overall frequency of incomplete excision is low and similar to that in other reports. However, high frequency in high-risk sites, low rates of previous biopsy, and substantial variation in performance between physicians and clinics suggests there is significant opportunity to further improve health outcomes.