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Digital photos 'cut skin cancer referral time'

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Digital photos used to diagnose skin cancer has dramatically cut waiting times from months to days

The pilot scheme has been tested in the Forth Valley and uses pictures of a patient's suspicious moles, which are then sent to a dermatologist, who decides whether the patient requires further treatment. This cuts out the need to refer patients directly to a specialist.

NHS Forth Valley found that a third of those who underwent the "photo triage" procedure did not require any treatment, and as a result the queue for others needing specialist attention was reduced.

Dr Paul Baughan, one of the GPs overseeing the scheme, said: "In general practice each GP sees dozens of people over a year worried about skin cancer, and it is not always possible to reassure them at the surgery.

"GPs try to describe, on referral, what a skin growth looks like, but the additional information that is available from a photograph complements this and allows the specialist to decide upon the best course of management."

Consultant dermatologist Dr Colin Morton added: "The scheme provides multiple benefits. It means quicker assessment for patients with worrying skin growths, quicker reassurance for those with innocent growths and frees up time for us to see more people."

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