Assessing Skin Biopsy Rates for Histologic Findings Indicative of Nonpathological Cutaneous Disease

Date of this Version


Document Type



BACKGROUNDRecent increase in skin biopsies has been attributed to an epidemic of skin cancer. This may be avoidable, with potential savings.OBJECTIVETo determine whether the increase in skin biopsies is attributable to increasing frequency of biopsies associated with histology lacking pathological cutaneous disease. Pathological cutaneous disease was defined as (1) a malignancy, precancerous lesion, or lesion of uncertain behavior; or (2) disease symptomatic or associated with adverse quality of life impact.PATIENTS AND METHODSRetrospective cohort study, 2006 to 2013 of dermatology practice serving Florida and Ohio. Data were a consecutive sample of skin biopsies for diagnosis of dermatologic disease.RESULTSA total of 267,706 biopsies by an average of 52 providers per month from January 06 to December 13 were analyzed. Number of biopsies per visit increased 2% per year (RR: 1.02, CI: 1.00-1.04). Likelihood of biopsy associated with histology indicative of nonpathological cutaneous disease did not increase over time (OR: 0.99, CI: 0.95-1.03, p =.6302).CONCLUSIONRates of biopsies associated with nonpathological cutaneous disease is not increasing. Overall biopsy rates per visit have gradually increased; this seems attributable to greater rates of detection of pathological dermatologic disease.