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B. Improving Doctors' Skin Cancer Scores

Narrator: : Skin cancer is on the rise -- but your doctor may not find it. This is Science Today. Barbara Gerbert, a behavioral scientist at the University of California, San Francisco, did a study to see if primary care doctors could correctly diagnose skin cancer as often as dermatologists. The primary care doctors were right only half the time. Besides not identifying lesions that were malignant, they called lesions that weren't malignant cancerous.

Gerbert: And so they would do biopsies that weren't necessary more frequently than the dermatologists.

Narrator: : But primary care doctors who had had some experience in dermatology, usually as medical students...

Gerbert: Were more likely to get higher scores, better scores, and we do believe that experience can help improve primary care physicians' abilities with skin cancer.

Narrator: : Fortunately, Gerbert found that with three to four hours' training, previously untrained primary care doctors equaled the scores of the dermatologists.

Gerbert: So in the area of dermatology, what we would like is that every primary care physician in training get three to four hours on skin cancer.

Narrator: : For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.