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Ann Dermatol Venereol. 2005 Dec;132(12 Pt 1):956-61.

[Assessment of a general practitioner training campaign for early detection of cutaneous melanoma in the Haut-Rhin department of France].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Service de Dermatologie, Hôpital Pasteur, Colmar.



Dermatologists frequently provide training for general practitioners, but such training is not systematic and evaluation is rare.


A training campaign for general practitioners and occupational physicians in melanoma screening was carried out in the Haut-Rhin Department of France in 2004. The 630 general practitioners and 120 occupational physicians in this geographic department received repeated mail together with materials (posters and booklets) for their waiting rooms, and they were invited to attend medical training sessions. The sessions consisted of 10 photographs for initial evaluation, provision of epidemiological information, training in identification of subjects at risk and diagnosis of pigmented lesions, with a further 10 photographs for evaluation at the end. The 20 evaluation photographs were randomly selected for each session from 40 photographs comprising 18 cases of melanomas, 14 of nevi, 4 of basal cell carcinomas and 4 of seborrheic keratoses. At the end of each session, the physicians returned 2 anonymous questionnaires containing their overall assessment of the campaign (Q1) and their answers concerning the 20 evaluation photographs (proposed diagnosis and management strategy) (Q2). The questionnaires were then analyzed. The 40 evaluation photographs were also tested on 47 dermatologists.


Three hundred and fifty physicians - 278/630 general practitioners (44%) and 72/120 occupational physicians (60%) - attended 18 medical training sessions. Response levels for questionnaires Q1 and Q2 were 88% and 90% respectively. Almost all of the physicians involved considered the campaign to be warranted. At the end of the training sessions, 96% felt they were better equipped to identify subjects at risk for melanoma and 53% (58% of general practitioners and 39% of occupational physicians, p=0.03) felt they had greatly improved their ability to diagnose pigmented lesions. The median number of correct replies concerning the evaluation photographs increased from 6/10 to 7/10 between the initial evaluation photographs and the final evaluation photographs (p<0.0001), with no difference being seen between the general practitioners and occupational physicians. The median number of correct replies from the 47 dermatologists was 35/40 (8.75/10). The most striking improvement noted during the campaign concerned the ability to identify melanomas. The figure rose from an initial 59% at the start of the session (initial evaluation photographs) (versus 86% for the dermatologists) to 84% by the end of the session (final evaluation photographs) (p<0.0001). The management strategy proposed for photographs of melanoma (irrespective of the proposed diagnosis) was judged "appropriate" in 86% of cases at the start of the session versus 94% at the end of the session (p<0.001). Seborrheic keratosis was correctly identified in 43% of cases by the general practitioners/occupational physicians versus 75% by the dermatologists, and was confused with melanoma in 22% of cases by the general practitioners/occupational physicians versus 5% by the dermatologists. No improvement was seen during the training session in terms of the ability of the general practitioners/occupational physicians to correctly identify seborrheic keratosis. The majority of participants indicated their willingness to participate in the screening program and asked to receive information on melanoma on a regular basis.


This initial study shows the immediate impact of medical training sessions on general practitioners/occupational physicians to be important in terms of sensitization and moderate but significant in terms of improved diagnosis of pigmented lesions. The longer term impact, as well as the impact of the campaign on physicians not taking part in the medical training sessions, remains unknown. This study militates in favor of the involvement of general practitioners and occupational physicians in mass screening for melanoma in collaboration with dermatologists. The 2004 campaign in the Haut-Rhin Department also included information for the general public. The primary evaluation criterion of the campaign will be change in incidence of thick melanomas recorded by the departmental cancer registry.

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