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Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Volume 72, n° 2
pages 310-313 (février 2015)
Doi : 10.1016/j.jaad.2014.10.030
accepted : 22 October 2014
Original Articles

Delivering value in dermatology: Insights from skin cancer detection in routine clinical visits

Monica Enamandram, MD a, Lyn M. Duncan, MD b, Alexandra B. Kimball, MD, MPH a,
a Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 
b Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 

Reprint requests: Alexandra B. Kimball, MD, MPH, Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 50 Staniford St, Suite 240, Boston, MA 02114.

There are increasing demands to demonstrate and report on outcomes in dermatology. Skin cancer diagnosis through skin examination has been well studied, and is promising as a value-delivering intervention.


This study seeks to identify the rate of skin cancer diagnosis during routine visits to a large tertiary dermatology clinic.


Medical records of patients presenting for routine dermatologic care at Massachusetts General Hospital between March 28 and September 28, 2012, were retrospectively reviewed. All patients given a diagnosis of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) confirmed on biopsy specimen were identified. Billing data were used to identify the total number of patients evaluated during the study period.


NMSC was diagnosed in 1266 skin biopsy specimens from 1047 (7.0%) of the 14,829 patients who presented for routine care. In all, 55% of patients with NMSC were men (mean age 70 years). Chief symptoms of patients with NMSC included general dermatologic concerns (37%), routine cancer screening (43%), and specific lesion(s) of concern (19%).


Retrospective design and restriction to a single institution may limit the generalizability of our findings.


The incidence of NMSC in routine dermatology is high; these findings validate the value of care provided by dermatologists and highlight the likely increasing need for their diagnostic skills as the population ages in the United States.

The full text of this article is available in PDF format.

Key words : basal cell carcinoma, nonmelanoma skin cancer, quality improvement, screening, skin cancer incidence, squamous cell carcinoma, value in health care delivery

 Funding sources: None.
 Conflicts of interest: None declared.

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