Your GP will probably arrange the first tests to assess your symptoms. If these tests do not rule out melanoma, you will usually be referred to a specialist, such as a dermatologist or surgeon, who will arrange further tests and advise you about treatment options.
You may also be cared for by a range of health professionals who specialise in different aspects of your treatment, especially if you have a melanoma with a Breslow thickness greater than 1 mm, or if the melanoma has spread. This is often referred to as a multidisciplinary team (MDT).
Your GP will usually continue to play a key role in your care throughout your treatment.
Learn more about:
The different roles
The following health professionals may be in your MDT:
- GP (general practitioner) – assists with treatment decisions and works with your specialists to provide ongoing care
- Dermatologist – specialises in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions, including melanoma
- General surgeon – performs surgery to remove the melanoma; skin reconstruction; and surgery on the lymph nodes
- Reconstructive (plastic) surgeon – specialises in complex skin reconstruction techniques
- Surgical oncologist – specialist cancer surgeon; removes melanomas and conducts more complex surgery on the lymph nodes and other organs
- Medical oncologist – specialises in treating cancer with drug therapies such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy
- Radiation oncologist – prescribes and coordinates the course of radiotherapy
- Specialist nurse – administers treatment and provides care and support throughout your treatment
- Cancer nurse coordinator – coordinates your care, liaises with other members of the MDT and supports your family
- Lymphoedema practitioner – educates people about lymphoedema management and provides treatment
- Counsellor, social worker, psychologist – link you to support services, provide emotional support and help manage anxiety and depression
- Physiotherapist, occupational therapist – assist with physical and practical problems
- Palliative care team – specialise in pain and symptom control to maximise wellbeing and improve quality of life
Some people, particularly if they have a deeper, invasive melanoma, are treated in specialist melanoma units located at hospitals in major cities around Australia. At these centres, specialists in melanoma work together to assess your case and recommend the best treatment.
If you are referred to a melanoma unit or a multidisciplinary team by your GP, you will be able to talk to one or more medical specialists who will answer your questions, and advise you and your GP about your treatment options. The best treatment pathway will depend on the pathology and imaging results.
As well as providing treatment advice, melanoma units are also involved in research studies and may invite you to participate. They may also seek your permission to collect information and tissue and blood samples from you, for use in melanoma research.
People who are at high risk of melanoma are also often asked to take part in research studies, even if they have not been diagnosed with melanoma. For more on this see Clinical trials.
To find out where a specialist melanoma unit is located, ask your doctor or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
|Most people with melanoma will only require surgery. They will not need to see a medical or radiation oncologist.|