By Tanya Bleiker – President of the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD)
Fundamental to practising dermatology is a good knowledge of dermatopathology and, even more importantly, a good working relationship with our dermatopathologist colleagues. For a dermatopathologist, a good medical knowledge is necessary to understand the disease processes when interpreting complex dermatological conditions. Working together closely is essential to correlate the clinical and pathological features, which will have a direct impact on how we manage our patients and on their outcomes.
The reason many of us go into dermatology is that it is never boring. Even after years in the specialty we are faced with conditions that we may not have seen before. We thrive on a diagnostic challenge, piecing together the jigsaw to make a diagnosis. For inflammatory skin disease, taking a biopsy is not just about the surgical process, it is about choosing the right area to sample, the right type of biopsy and a good differential diagnosis. When we struggle with a clinical diagnosis it is not unusual for the histological picture to be non-diagnostic and it is the clinicopathological correlation which is vital to manage the patient effectively. The importance of the relationship between dermatologist and dermatopathologist is something we should not underestimate!
The increasing skin cancer load accounting for over 50% of a dermatologist’s workload requires skilled, structured, reporting and staging to ensure optimal management and prognosis. One of the most difficult clinical and pathological diagnoses is melanoma; getting this right is paramount and requires specialist reporting to prevent missed diagnoses, or equally, over diagnosis. Equitable access to dermatopathologists across the UK is important when promoting good care for our patients.
Dermatology is one of the most diverse medical specialties with over 2000 diagnoses covering all ages. The new dermatology curriculum will be launched in August 2021 and the need for a good dermatopathology foundation remains an essential part of our training.
The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) is a charity whose goal is “Healthy skin for all”, to achieve this we need to promote integration of dermatopathology in our dermatology services. The British Society of Dermatopathologists is a valued affiliated society and we look forwards to working together more closely in the future.
Dr. Tanya Bleiker
BMBS (Hons), BMedSci (Hons), FRCP
Dr Tanya Bleiker is a consultant dermatologist at the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton. She is the President of the British Association of Dermatologists -BAD (2020-2022). She is one of the Editors of Rook’s Textbook of Dermatology and was the Editor of the BJD 2010-2013.