Nurses in dermatology settings are conducting high-quality screenings to identify suspicious lesions and non-melanoma skin cancer. In the October 2008 issue of Dermatology Nursing, Deborah L. Phelan and Maureen Heneghan explore how dermatology nurses participate in skin cancer screening and detection in their practices.

The authors surveyed 108 nurses at the Dermatology Nurses' Association (DNA) convention in February 2007 in Arlington, VA, to learn more about the nurses' skin cancer screening practices and confidence in their detection abilities. Respondents were divided into groups by highest education level (Group 1: LPN, RPN; Group 2: RN, undergraduate degree [other], associate degree, diploma, BSN; Group 3: NP, graduate degree nursing, graduate degree [other]).

Ninety-four percent of respondents in Group 1 said they perform total body skin exams (TBSEs), as did 75% of respondents in Group 2 and 86% of respondents in Group 3. Phelan and Heneghan also report most nurses in each group said they were "confident" or "very confident" they could identify such skin cancers as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and actinic keratosis.

Sixty-six percent of respondents use digital photography in their practice, and 40% of nurses who use any type of photography stated they used it to monitor patients with atypical moles. Seventy-eight percent of respondents have a dermatoscope in their practice, and 34% said they used the device themselves.

Phelan and Heneghan say nurses "are pivotal in detecting skin cancers." They say direct communication with patients is a great opportunity to discuss sun protection measures, ensure regular dermatology follow-ups, and remind patients to perform monthly skin self-exams. (A Survey of Skin Cancer Screening Practices Among Dermatology Nurses; Deborah L. Phelan, MS, RN, OCN; Maureen Heneghan, MS; Dermatology Nursing; October 2008; Dermatology Nursing )

Dermatology Nursing is the official journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association (DNA). The journal is nursing's premier skin care resource and contains state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed articles on all aspects of skin and wound care.

Dermatology Nursing