An analysis of biopsies for suspected skin cancer at a tertiary care dermatology clinic in the Western Cape province of South Africa

De Wet, Johann ; Steyn, Minette ; Jordaan, Henry F. ; Smith, Rhodine ; Claasens, Saskya ; Visser, Willem I. (2020)

CITATION: De Wet, J. et al. 2020. An analysis of biopsies for suspected skin cancer at a tertiary care dermatology clinic in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Journal of Skin Cancer, 2020:9061532, doi:10.1155/2020/9061532.

The original publication is available at https://www.hindawi.com

Article

Background. Skin cancer is a growing health concern worldwide. It is the most common malignancy in South Africa and places a large burden on the public healthcare sector. There is a paucity of published scientific data on skin cancer in South Africa. Objectives. To report the findings of biopsies performed in patients with suspected skin cancer attending the Tygerberg Academic Hospital (TAH) Dermatology outpatient department (OPD) in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Methodology: A retrospective chart review identified all patients who underwent a biopsy for a suspected skin cancer diagnosis between September 2015 and August 2016 at the TAH dermatology OPD. Results. A total number of 696 biopsies from 390 participants were identified, of which 460 were histologically confirmed as malignant lesions. The proportion of clinically suspected skin cancers that were histologically confirmed as cancer was 68%. The most commonly occurring malignancies were basal cell carcinoma (BCC) (54.8%), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) (18.9%), squamous cell carcinoma in-situ (SCCI) (8.0%), Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) (6.7%), malignant melanoma (MM) (6.1%), and keratoacanthoma (KA) (4.6%). The number needed to treat (NTT) for all cancers diagnosed and for MM was 1.5 and 4 respectively. BCC (89.3%) and KS (67.7%) was the most common skin cancer in the white and black population respectively. The ratio of BCC to SCC was 2.03. Conclusion. This study provides valuable scientific data on the accuracy of skin cancer diagnosis, distribution and patient demographics in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, on which further research can be based. The study highlights the burden of skin cancer on this specific population group and calls for standardised reporting methods and increased surveillance of skin cancers.

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