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Incidental lesions found in veterans referred to dermatology: The value of a dermatologic examination

Published:January 23, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2014.12.027

      Background

      Few studies have evaluated the detection of incidental skin cancers.

      Objective

      We sought to evaluate the rate of incidental cutaneous malignancies in routine dermatology consults.

      Methods

      This was a retrospective chart review of all dermatology consults at the Minneapolis Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center over 8.25 years. Inclusion criteria included an in-person clinic visit within 18 months of the initial consult date. Patients with an in-person skin examination by a dermatologist in the 18 months before consult date were excluded.

      Results

      Of 28,405 consults sent during the study period, 17,174 met inclusion criteria. In all, 2257 (13.1%) patients had 1 or more biopsied incidental lesions. Half (50.3%; n = 1674) of the 3328 biopsied incidental lesions were malignant, which included 1187 patients. The per-person detection rate for an incidental malignant lesion was 6.9% (1187/17,174). There were 87 incidental melanomas identified in 84 patients. The per-person detection rate for an incidental melanoma was 0.5% (84/17,174). The most frequent anatomical location for biopsied incidental malignancies was the head and neck (53.9%). Incidental melanomas were most frequently located on the back (33.3%).

      Limitations

      Nondiverse patient population and conservative detection rate estimates are limitations.

      Conclusion

      An in-person skin examination by a trained dermatologist is important for detection of skin malignancies. This may have implications for teledermatology.

      Key words

      Abbreviations used:

      BIL (biopsied incidental lesion), IPDE (in-person dermatologic examination), PC (primary care), PCP (primary care provider), VA (Department of Veterans Affairs)
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