Comparison of patient pathways in the early detection of skin cancer – a claims data analysis

Magdalene Krensel*, Jana Petersen, Brigitte Stephan, Alexander Katalinic, Jobst Augustin

*Corresponding author for this work


Background: Regarding skin cancer screening, patients in Germany have the choice between a direct screening by dermatologists or an initial screening by general practitioners followed by dermatological screening if further examination is required. The aim of this study is to evaluate whether screening by general practitioners is associated with risk selection in subsequent dermatological screenings. Patients and Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study based on claims data from a German health insurance company (Barmer GEK). Patient pathways in skin cancer screenings between 2008 and 2016 were analyzed, and differences between the two groups were tested at 95 % confidence intervals. Results: A total of 495,000 initial and 111,000 secondary examinations by dermatologists were analyzed. The proportion of subsequent excisions was lower in initial screenings by dermatologists. To diagnose one person with non-melanoma skin cancer or melanoma, five or 23 to 42 excisions were necessary, depending on the type of excision considered. The number of examinations to identify one patient ranged from 25 to 53 for non-melanoma skin cancer and 42 to 165 for melanoma. For melanoma, the number of excisions and screenings to diagnose skin cancer was lower in secondary examinations. Conclusions: The results indicate a risk selection through initial examinations by general practitioners. However, there are other aspects that should be taken into account when comparing the two pathways.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJDDG - Journal of the German Society of Dermatology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)389-398
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 03.2021

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Center for Population Medicine and Public Health (ZBV)


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