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New skin cancer service for Beckenham Beacon patients

24 April 2024 - Patients are being assessed and treated for skin cancer more quickly following the launch of a new teledermatology service.

Specialists at Beckenham Beacon are now using high quality medical photographs to assess and diagnose skin conditions, including cancer.

Susan Smart, Senior Medical Photographer at Beckenham Beacon, part of King’s College Hospital, explained: “Once a GP refers a patient with a potential skin condition to our team, we can help make sure they are assessed as quickly as possible. Rather than waiting for a face-to-face appointment, we can capture images which can be used to diagnose skin lesions and other conditions. These images are reviewed by a consultant, and within two weeks the patient is contacted with details on the outcome of the review and instructions of what needs to happen next.

“Patients are either discharged as no treatment is needed, or invited for a follow-up face-to-face appointment or diagnostic procedure.

“This new service has specific inclusion criteria, and patients referred who do not meet these criteria are still offered a face-to-face appointment, so everyone is seen in good time.”

Since the service opened to patients at Beckenham Beacon in October 2023, over 1, 000 people across South London have been able to benefit from lower waiting times for treatment.

Nadia Bentoua, 44, from Bromley, was referred to the teledermatology service at Beckenham Beacon after she told her GP about a small mark on her face. She said: “I hoped it was nothing to worry about, but I knew how important it is to get these things checked. I went along to Beckenham Beacon where the team took lots of medical photographs, and three days later, I received a call from a consultant, who explained that I needed follow-up treatment.”

Nadia underwent a biopsy which confirmed she had basal cell carcinoma, one of the most common forms of skin cancer. She added: “Skin cancer was not on my radar at all, but because of the quality of the photos taken by the service, the consultant could tell without even seeing me that I needed a biopsy. I then had Mohs surgery (a procedure where thin layers of skin are removed one layer at a time), which was more invasive, but following that I had the brilliant news that the cancer had been successfully removed. I am so grateful that I was able to get the treatment I needed.”

Iosif Bakare, Senior Medical Photographer at Beckenham Beacon, added: “This new service will help us spot dangerous skin conditions as early as possible, and potentially save lives. Early and rapid diagnosis of skin cancer is very important to improve people’s outcomes. And of course, many referrals for skin cancer turn out to be a simple skin problem that do not need further treatment.”