Your health care team
If you have a spot on your skin that may be melanoma, you will probably start by seeing your general practitioner (GP). Some people choose to go to skin cancer clinics, which are often operated by GPs with an interest in skin cancer.
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If a GP diagnoses or suspects melanoma, they will usually refer you to a specialist, such as a dermatologist or surgeon. The specialist will arrange further tests and consider the treatment options. These options may be discussed with other health professionals at what is known as a multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting.
During and after treatment, you may see a range of health professionals who specialise in different aspects of your care, especially if the melanoma has a Breslow thickness greater than 1 mm or if it has spread to other parts of the body.
Some people are treated in specialist melanoma units located at hospitals in major cities around Australia. Your GP is most likely to refer you to one of these units if the melanoma is considered high risk (based on the Breslow thickness).
In a specialist melanoma unit, you will be able to talk to one or more medical specialists from the multidisciplinary team. They will answer your questions and recommend the most suitable treatment pathway based on your test results.
To find a specialist melanoma unit near you, check with your doctor or call Cancer Council 13 11 20. Melanoma Patients Australia also provides a list of specialist units.
To find cancer specialists, multidisciplinary teams and hospitals in NSW or ACT, you can visit the NSW Government website CanRefer.
|GP||checks skin for suspicious spots, may remove potential skin cancers and refer you to specialists|
|dermatologist*||diagnoses, treats and manages skin conditions, including skin cancer|
|general surgeon*||performs surgery to remove early melanoma and lymph nodes, and to reconstruct the skin|
|reconstructive (plastic) surgeon*||performs surgery that restores, repairs or reconstructs the body’s appearance and function; may also remove lymph nodes|
|surgical oncologist*||performs surgery to remove melanoma and conducts more complex surgery on the lymph nodes and other organs; can be a general surgeon or a reconstructive surgeon|
|medical oncologist*||treats melanoma with drug therapies such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy|
|radiation oncologist*||plans and oversees radiation therapy|
|cancer care coordinator||coordinates care, liaises with MDT and supports you and your family throughout treatment; care may also be coordinated by a clinical nurse consultant (CNC) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS)|
|counsellor, social worker, psychologist||help you manage your emotional response to diagnosis and treatment|
|physiotherapist, occupational therapist||assist with physical and practical issues, including restoring movement and mobility after treatment|
|palliative care specialist* and nurse||work closely with the GP and cancer specialists to help control symptoms and maintain quality of life|
A/Prof Robyn Saw, Surgical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Prof Bryan Burmeister, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare Fraser Coast and Hervey Bay Hospital, QLD; Tamara Dawson, Consumer, Melanoma & Skin Cancer Advocacy Network; Prof Georgina Long, Co-Medical Director, Melanoma Institute Australia, and Chair, Melanoma Medical Oncology and Translational Research, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Alexander Menzies, Medical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney, Royal North Shore and Mater Hospitals, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Paige Preston, Chair, Cancer Council’s National Skin Cancer Committee, Cancer Council Australia; Prof H Peter Soyer, Chair in Dermatology and Director, Dermatology Research Centre, The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, and Director, Dermatology Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Julie Teraci, Clinical Nurse Consultant and Coordinator, WA Kirkbride Melanoma Advisory Service, WA.
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