Your health care team
Your GP will probably arrange the first tests to assess your symptoms. If these tests confirm melanoma, you will usually be referred to a specialist, such as a dermatologist or surgeon. The specialist will arrange further tests. If melanoma is diagnosed, the specialist will consider 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 also see a range of health professionals who specialise in different aspects of your care, especially if you have a melanoma with a Breslow thickness greater than 1 mm, or if the melanoma has spread.
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Some people, particularly if they have a deeper, invasive melanoma, are treated in specialist melanoma units located at hospitals in major cities around Australia.
If you are referred to a multidisciplinary melanoma unit by your GP, you will be able to talk to one or more medical specialists who will answer your questions, and recommend the most suitable treatment. The best treatment pathway will depend on the test results.
To find a specialist melanoma unit near you, ask your doctor, call Cancer Council 13 11 20 or visit Melanoma Patients Australia.
Below is a list of the health professionals you may see:
|dermatologist||diagnoses, treats and manages skin conditions, including skin cancer|
|general surgeon||performs surgery to remove early melanoma; skin reconstruction; and surgery on the lymph nodes|
|reconstructive (plastic) surgeon||performs surgery that restores, repairs or reconstructs the body’s appearance and function|
|surgical oncologist||performs surgery to remove melanoma and conducts more complex surgery on the lymph nodes and other organs|
|medical oncologist||treats cancer with drug therapies such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy (systemic treatment)|
|radiation oncologist||plans and delivers 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 nurses||work closely with the GP and cancer specialists to help control symptoms and maintain quality of life|
A/Prof Victoria Atkinson, Senior Staff Specialist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Visiting Medical Oncologist, Greenslopes Private Hospital, and The University of Queensland Clinical School of Medicine, QLD; Adjunct Prof John Kelly AM, Consultant Dermatologist, Victorian Melanoma Service, and Department of Medicine at Alfred Health, Monash University, VIC; Dr Alex Chamberlain, Dermatologist, Glenferrie Dermatology, Victorian Melanoma Service and Monash Univeristy, VIC; Alison Button-Sloan, Melanoma Patients Australia; Peter Cagney, Consumer; Prof Brendon J Coventry, Associate Professor of Surgery, The University of Adelaide, Surgical Oncologist, Royal Adelaide Hospital, and Research Director, Australian Melanoma Research Foundation, SA; Dr David Gyorki, Consultant Surgical Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Liz King, Skin Cancer Prevention Manager, Cancer Council NSW; Shannon Jones, SunSmart Health Professionals Coordinator, Cancer Council Victoria; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Prof Richard Scolyer, Senior Staff Specialist, Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Co-Medical Director, Melanoma Institute Australia and Clinical Professor, The University of Sydney, NSW; Heather Walker, Chair, Cancer Council National Skin Cancer Committee, Cancer Council Australia. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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Practical advice and support during and after treatment