It seems in the USA that more and more people are paying cash for cosmetic surgery procedures to treat the effects of skin cancer. This recent surge of patients is apparently due to a shortage of Dermatologists.
The problem has arisen, because the diagnosis rates of skin cancer is going up, but surgical procedures are not generally covered by Medicare. This is compounded with the shortage of qualified dermatologists coming out of medical schools.
Speaking with local reporters, Dr. Douglas Robins of the Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery said: “I think there is a shortage. I know some places have month long backlogs.”
This shortage is also causing problems for patients too. With longer delays in diagnosis there is a greater risk of developing more aggressive forms of cancer. Commenting on this another dermatologist, Dr. Michael Steppie whose practice is in Orlando, Florida, said: “You’re going to have more people aging who have been exposed to skin damage.”
He added: “You’re spending more time doing skin cancers, and there’s only so many dermatologists. We’re going to be backed up here [in Florida] more than most places.”
The shortage of suitable medical practitioners, with increasing numbers of diagnoses of skin cancer is also causing management problems. Wake Forest University’s professor of Dermatology said there were two essential problems. First, Medicare subsidies for training dermatologists have not been increased and hospitals themselves prefer medical students who specialise in surgery, including cosmetic surgery. He said: “The hospitals then are under pressure to give those available residency training spots to specialties other than dermatology. It’s a wonder we train any dermatology residents at all.”