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Immunotherapy for Skin Cancer: Knowledge Gap Revealed in Survey of Dermatologists

By: Jenna Carter, PhD
Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2022

A recent article published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology highlighted knowledge gaps for dermatologists treating patients with non-melanoma skin cancer, particularly regarding immunotherapy for both metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and locally advanced basal cell carcinoma. Based on the findings of a survey, Darrell Rigel, MD, MS, of the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, New York, and colleagues found that an average of 40.6% of participating dermatologists reported feeling comfortable about counseling patients on the risks and benefits of immune check point inhibitors. In addition, 71% of respondent dermatologists said that having more information about such treatment would be helpful in their practice.

In July 2021, a 10-question survey was emailed to a list of U.S.-based dermatologists. Of the survey respondents, 82% had been practicing for more than 10 years; 84% of the respondents practiced in a solo/group practice or in a health-system practice. In addition, 58% of survey respondents specialized in medical dermatology, and 25% specialized in surgical/oncologic dermatology. Data from a total of 132 respondents were recorded and analyzed. The survey assessed their knowledge of immune check point inhibitors and referral patterns for the management of metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma or locally advanced basal cell carcinoma.

In addition to the survey findings previously mentioned, the study authors noted that being in practice for less than 10 years was not significantly associated with desiring more information about treatment. The respondents also reported that the highest number of annual average referrals were made to Mohs surgeons. Based on these findings, the study authors concluded that a knowledge gap exists for dermatologists in treating patients with immunotherapy, and there is a need among all dermatologists, regardless of years in practice, to receive more information.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit jcadonline.com.


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