Skin cancer diagnosis

Your GP will first look at any suspicious spots, moles or freckles. If they suspect skin cancer, a biopsy will most likely be done to confirm the diagnosis.

A biopsy is usually a quick procedure. Your GP may do it, or refer you to a specialist. You will be give a local  anaesthetic and the spot will be  cut out. You will usually have a stitch or stitches to help the wound to heal.

The tissue that is cut out will be sent to a laboratory where a pathologist will examine it under a microscope. It will probably take at least a week for the results of your tests to be ready. This waiting period can be an anxious time. The results from your biopsy will help work out the treatment options.

Things to remember
If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, keep  these important points in mind:

  • Your GP will refer you  to a dermatologist or other specialist if they feel  it is necessary. You can also request that your GP refer you to a specialist if you would like a second opinion about any diagnosis and proposed treatment.
  • It is important that skin cancer (especially melanoma) is treated promptly after diagnosis.
  • The risks in most treatments will be minor but may include infection, pain and permanent scarring.
  • Whoever plans your treatment should also provide follow-up care and information.
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