Background: Dermoscopy is a widely used technique, recommended in clinical practice guidelines worldwide for the early diagnosis of skin cancers. Intra-European disparities are reported for early detection and prognosis of skin cancers, however, no information exists about regional variation in patterns of dermoscopy use across Europe.
Objective: To evaluate the regional differences in patterns of dermoscopy use and training among European dermatologists.
Materials & methods: An online survey of European-registered dermatologists regarding dermoscopy training, practice and attitudes was established. Answers from Eastern (EE) versus Western European (WE) countries were compared and their correlation with their respective countries' gross domestic product/capita (GDPc) and total and government health expenditure/capita (THEc and GHEc) was analysed.
Results: We received 4,049 responses from 14 WE countries and 3,431 from 18 EE countries. A higher proportion of WE respondents reported dermoscopy use (98% vs. 77%, p<0.001) and training during residency (43% vs. 32%) or anytime (96.5% vs. 87.6%) (p<0.001) compared to EE respondents. The main obstacles in dermoscopy use were poor access to dermoscopy equipment in EE and a lack of confidence in one's skills in WE. GDPc, THEc and GHEc correlated with rate of dermoscopy use and dermoscopy training during residency (Spearman rho: 0.5-0.7, p<0.05), and inversely with availability of dermoscopy equipment.
Conclusion: The rates and patterns of dermoscopy use vary significantly between Western and Eastern Europe, on a background of economic inequality. Regionally adapted interventions to increase access to dermoscopy equipment and training might enhance the use of this technique towards improving the early detection of skin cancers.
Keywords: Eastern Europe; Western Europe; dermoscopy; disparities; skin cancer; training.