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What Doctor To See For Skin Cancer

Referral To A Skin Cancer Specialist

Local doctors seeing many farmers come in with skin cancer

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you have symptoms that could be due to certain types of non melanoma skin cancer. Depending on your symptoms and other factors, this might be an urgent referral.

Some GPs have had special training and are able to treat a type of skin cancer called basal cell cancer . So you might not need a referral to see a specialist.

Who Should See A Skin Cancer Specialist

People at higher risk for skin cancer should see a dermatologist for regular screenings. You may be at greater risk for skin cancer if you:

  • Have a fair complexion and blonde or red hair
  • Have had at least one blistering sunburn
  • Have a history of prolonged sun exposure or tanning bed use
  • Have large moles or numerous moles
  • Have a family history of melanoma or personal history of skin cancer
  • Have had a transplant
  • Have a weakened immune system

Even those who are not high-risk can develop skin cancer, regardless of skin color. So if you notice changes in your skin, make sure to discuss them with your doctor.

Is Mohs Right For Me

Mohs surgery is the gold standard for treating many basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas , including those in cosmetically and functionally important areas around the eyes, nose, lips, ears, scalp, fingers, toes or genitals. Mohs is also recommended for BCCs or SCCs that are large, aggressive or growing rapidly, that have indistinct edges, or have recurred after previous treatment. Some surgeons are also successfully using Mohs surgery on certain cases of melanoma.

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Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • What should I look for when I do a self-examination of my skin?
  • I have a mole thats getting bigger. Could it be skin cancer?
  • I spent a lot of time in the sun as a child. Should I be checked for skin cancer regularly?
  • My father had skin cancer. Am I more likely to have it, too?
  • I have darker skin. Can I still get skin cancer?
  • How quickly does my type of skin cancer grow and spread?
  • Do I have an increased risk of additional skin cancers?
  • Should I see a skin cancer specialist?

Why The Cancer Council Does Not Endorse Skin Check Services


Commercial skin check providers regularly approach Cancer Council for endorsement of their services.

Some of these are doctor clinics and are no different than any doctor service provider. Cancer Council cannot promote one doctor service provider over another.

Secondly, Cancer Council does not have the resources to monitor the quality of service provided by all skin check providers in order to make sound recommendations. Instead, we provide information that will allow you to make an informed decision about your own choice of skin check provider.

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Should I Be Checked For Skin Cancer

4-minute read

The best way to protect yourself from skin cancer is to use sun protection and have regular skin examinations by a doctor who is trained in using dermoscopy . If you are at high risk of skin cancer , full skin examinations are recommended every 6 months.

Early detection of skin cancer can improve the chances of successful treatment. You should become familiar with your skin, even the skin that is not normally exposed to the sun, and tell a doctor if you notice any change in shape, colour or size of a mole or freckle, or if you develop a new spot.

What Happens During A Skin Cancer Check

Your doctor will probably ask you some questions to assess your risk of skin cancer. You will usually need to undress for the skin examination. Your doctor may use a special device with a magnifying lens to look at any suspicious spots on your skin.

If your doctor suspects a skin cancer, they may remove it or perform a biopsy . Alternatively, they may refer you to a specialist.

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Questions For Your Skin Cancer Healthcare Team

Here are some questions you might want to ask your dermatologist or other health professionals you see:

  • What type of skin cancer do I have?
  • What stage is my cancer?
  • How much experience do you have treating my type of skin cancer?
  • What do you suggest is the best treatment for me?
  • Are there other options? What are they?
  • How effective is the treatment for my skin cancer?
  • What are the side effects of treatment?
  • How likely is it that my cancer will return after treatment?
  • Should I stay out of the sun or take special precautions when outdoors?
  • Do you accept my insurance plan?

Help Getting Through Cancer Treatment

Skin Cancer Doctor Guest

People with cancer need support and information, no matter what stage of illness they may be in. Knowing all of your options and finding the resources you need will help you make informed decisions about your care.

Whether you are thinking about treatment, getting treatment, or not being treated at all, you can still get supportive care to help with pain or other symptoms. Communicating with your cancer care team is important so you understand your diagnosis, what treatment is recommended, and ways to maintain or improve your quality of life.

Different types of programs and support services may be helpful, and can be an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.

The American Cancer Society also has programs and services including rides to treatment, lodging, and more to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists.

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Five Easy Steps To Prepare Yourself

As part of a complete early detection strategy, we recommend that you see a dermatologist once a year, or more often if you are at a higher risk of skin cancer, for a full-body, professional skin exam.

To help you prepare and make the most of your appointment, follow these five simple steps.

  • Perform a self-exam and come to your appointment prepared with notes about any new, changing or unusual spots you want to point out to your dermatologist. If youve taken smartphone photos of a spot that has changed over time, be sure to show them to your dermatologist.
  • Remove nail polishfrom your fingers and toes to enable thorough examination of fingers, nails and nail beds, since skin cancers can form there.
  • Wear your hair loose. Remove pony tails, buns or hair clips so that your doctor can get a good look at your scalp where skin cancers can, and do, develop.
  • Pack makeup remover to bring to your appointment and remove any makeup before your exam so that the skin around your eyes is easy to examine.
  • Ask questions. This is your opportunity to get valuable advice and insight from a professional trained specifically in diseases of the skin. From explanations of unfamiliar terms to pointers on how to do a skin self-exam, your doctor is an excellent source of information!
  • During the exam

    Remember that early detection of skin cancer is the key to the most minimal and cost-effective treatment with the highest chance of a cure. Make your appointment soon!

    Skin Cancer Clinic Gp Or Dermatologist Who Is The Specialist

    Whether youre worried you might have skin cancer or are just seeking advice on prevention strategies, its hard to know who is best to speak to. Do you go to the Skin Cancer Clinic or GP? The Skin Specialist or Dermatologist?

    Let us break down the differences between each of these specialists for you so that you can make an informed decision about your health and get the professional advice you need.

    What is the difference between a Dermatologist and a Skin Specialist?

    A Dermatologist is a fully trained doctor with an additional four years of specialist training in Dermatology. They specialise in, diagnose and treat all matters regarding the skin which includes hair, nails and the wet areas of the mouth and genitalia. Dermatologists can treat a variety of things from acne, psoriasis, eczema, skin infections and melasma to moles and skin cancer. They are also trained to deliver cosmetic services such as laser therapy and fillers.

    If youre weighing up a Dermatologist vs a Skin Specialist, the good news is theres no difference between the two. Dermatologist is the official term for a medical professional specialising in skin and Skin Specialist is just another term for this. Be careful however not to get confused with Skin Care Specialists which refers to those who provide beauty treatments to the skin hair and nails.

    Skin Cancer Clinic or GP, which is best?

    Who Should I See About My Skin Cancer?

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    How Often Should You Get A Skin Cancer Exam

    Experts disagree on this question. Some medical groups say you should only get a screening if you have suspicious moles or you have a high chance of getting melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.

    Others recommend a yearly screening for people who are at high risk for skin cancer. A few things make you more likely to get it:

    • Blond or red hair, light eye color, and skin that freckles or sunburns easily
    • People in your family have had melanoma
    • Youve had unusual moles in the past
    • Youve had sunburns before, especially any that blistered
    • Youve used tanning beds
    • You have more than 50 moles or any that look irregular

    What Should You Do If You Notice A New Or Abnormal Mole Or Freckle

    How Can Doctors Tell If You Have Skin Cancer ...

    Heres a quick guide to deciding whether a new or changing mole, freckle, or spot on your body may need to be seen by a doctor:

    • Asymmetry. Is the spot different shapes on each side? Spots that arent perfectly round or symmetrical may be an early sign of skin cancer.
    • Border irregularity. Is the border around the area jagged or irregular? Look at where the color of the spot contrasts with the color of your skin. If this line is not clearly defined, the spot may be at a higher risk of becoming cancerous.
    • Color. Is the color consistent throughout the spot? Areas that are multiple shades of tan, brown, or black may be a cause for concern.
    • Diameter. Is it larger than 1/4 of an inch? Large spots that are bigger than this are more likely to become cancerous, especially if they keep growing.
    • Evolving. Does it change each time you look at it? Areas that change may result from irregular cancerous cell growth that a dermatologist needs to examine.

    The above are possible signs of melanoma.

    You should also see a dermatologist if you notice anything that:

    • does not heal
    • is pink, scaly, and does not resolve
    • is a new, abnormal growth

    These can be signs of non-melanoma skin cancers, such as basal cell or squamous cell.

    You can also talk with a doctor about anything your find concerning, even if the mole or freckle does not meet any of the above requirements. If youre ever nervous or uncertain about your health, talking with a doctor can help you get answers.

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    Positron Emission Tomography Scan

    A PET scan can help show if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. It is most useful in people with more advanced stages of melanoma.

    For this test, you are injected with a slightly radioactive form of sugar, which collects mainly in cancer cells. A special camera is then used to create a picture of areas of radioactivity in the body.

    PET/CT scan: Many centers have special machines that do both a PET and CT scan at the same time . This lets the doctor compare areas of higher radioactivity on the PET scan with the more detailed appearance of that area on the CT scan.

    When To Seek Professional Advice

    Generally, if you have a new rash, you should see your regular provider first. Many skin conditions don’t require a specialist for diagnosis and treatment. If your primary care provider isn’t sure what kind of rash you have or isn’t sure how to treat it, they will refer you to a specialist.

    You should also consider seeing a dermatologist if the regular regimen that your primary care physician developed for you is not working.

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    A Primer On Skin Cancer

    Malignant melanoma, especially in the later stages, is serious and treatment is difficult. Early diagnosis and treatment can increase the survival rate. Nonmelanoma skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Both are common and are almost always cured when found early and treated. People whove had skin cancer once are at risk for getting it again they should get a checkup at least once a year.

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    National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Centers:

    The Woman’s Doctor: Tips on preventing the different types of skin cancer

    If you are unsure of where to start, the National Cancer Institute part of the National Institutes of Health has designated 70 centers throughout the country as NCI-Designated Cancer Centers. These 70 centers deliver cutting-edge treatments to patients and are recognized for their scientific leadership, resources, and the depth and breadth of their research in basic, clinical, and/or population science.

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    What Is A Primary Care Providers Role In Treating Skin Cancer

    Primary care providers provide preventive care and health education.1 They diagnose and treat some medical problems. They refer patients to specialists for others. Primary care doctors include internists, family physicians, pediatricians, geriatricians, and gynecologists. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants provide primary care as well.1 They are not doctors, but they have advanced medical training.

    Some primary care providers are trained to recognize skin cancer. Some primary care providers perform full-body skin examinations. Others may look for signs of skin cancer while examining you for other reasons. Primary care providers may counsel about sun protection. Your primary care provider may biopsy a suspicious lesion or refer you to a dermatologist.2

    Biopsies Of Melanoma That May Have Spread

    Biopsies of areas other than the skin may be needed in some cases. For example, if melanoma has already been diagnosed on the skin, nearby lymph nodes may be biopsied to see if the cancer has spread to them.

    Rarely, biopsies may be needed to figure out what type of cancer someone has. For example, some melanomas can spread so quickly that they reach the lymph nodes, lungs, brain, or other areas while the original skin melanoma is still very small. Sometimes these tumors are found with imaging tests or other exams even before the melanoma on the skin is discovered. In other cases, they may be found long after a skin melanoma has been removed, so its not clear if its the same cancer.

    In still other cases, melanoma may be found somewhere in the body without ever finding a spot on the skin. This may be because some skin lesions go away on their own after some of their cells have spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma can also start in internal organs, but this is very rare, and if melanoma has spread widely throughout the body, it may not be possible to tell exactly where it started.

    When melanoma has spread to other organs, it can sometimes be confused with a cancer starting in that organ. For example, melanoma that has spread to the lung might be confused with a primary lung cancer .

    Biopsies of suspicious areas inside the body often are more involved than those used to sample the skin.

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    Referral To The Local Hospital Skin Cancer Mdt

    For a BCC that isn’t likely to come back, you might be seen by your GP if they are a member of the Local Hospital Skin Cancer MDT. Your GP may refer you to the Local Hospital Skin Cancer MDT if:

    • you have a BCC that’s at a higher risk of coming back or has come back
    • you have a squamous cell cancer or melanoma
    • its not certain which type of skin cancer you have

    Some GPs are specially trained to remove low risk basal cell cancers in their practice. There are a number of features that mean a BCC is considered low risk. These include:

    • a type of BCC called nodular BCC
    • being small
    • being in an area of the body where it is easy to remove

    Questions To Ask About Your Health Care Team

    How to Prevent and Detect Skin Cancer
    • How many oncologists will be part of my cancer treatment team?

    • If there is more than 1 doctor on my team, which doctor will lead my overall care?

    • How will each type of recommended cancer treatment help me?

    • Will my case be reviewed by a tumor board? When?

    • When do I need to make a decision about my treatment planning?

    • How often will I need to see each doctor during the treatment period? After treatment?

    • Are my doctors all at the same hospital/center or at different locations?

    • What is my health insurance coverage for different medical services? If Im concerned with the costs of cancer care, who can help me?

    • What other types of health care providers will be part of my cancer care team?

    • If I experience a new side effect or a change in how Im feeling, who should I tell?

    • Is there one person I should contact with any questions I have? How can I get in touch with the different professionals on my team?

    • What is the best way to get in touch with my cancer care team in an emergency?

    • Who can help me cope with the stress and emotions of cancer?

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