Your health care team
If you notice any changes to your skin, you may see your general practitioner (GP), or you may see a specialist such as a dermatologist, radiation oncologist or surgeon. Some people choose to go to skin cancer clinics, which are often operated by GPs with an interest in skin cancer.
When you make an appointment to see a specialist, ask what you will have to pay and how much will be refunded by Medicare. If there is a waiting list and there is a spot on your skin you are worried about, your GP can ask for an earlier appointment.
Many public hospitals have specialist outpatient clinics that provide free skin cancer treatment. Your GP can refer you. In areas without a permanent clinic, you may be able to see a visiting specialist.
Learn more about:
GPs treat most people with BCCs and SCCs. Treatment may include surgery and/or creams or gels (topical treatments). You may be referred to a dermatologist, surgeon or radiation oncologist for larger areas of abnormal tissue or cancers that are hard to remove.
To find a dermatologist near you that specialises in non-melanoma skin cancer, visit Australasian College of Dermatologists.
A specialist doctor who treats some skin cancers by prescribing and overseeing a course of radiation therapy.
Some skin cancers are treated by specialised surgeons:
- surgical oncologists specialise in treating cancer with surgery; they manage complex skin cancers, including those that have spread to the lymph nodes
- plastic surgeons are trained in complex reconstructive techniques for more difficult to treat areas, e.g. the nose, lips, eyelids and ears.
Should I go to a skin cancer clinic?
Skin cancer clinics offer a variety of services and fee arrangements. They are usually run by GPs who have an interest in skin cancer.
Research shows that clinics may not offer a higher level of skill than your GP. In deciding whether to attend a skin clinic, consider:
- the qualifications and experience of the medical staff – this includes whether they are members of a professional association related to treating skin cancer
- what you will have to pay and whether it is covered by Medicare – some clinics bulk-bill the first consultation but require up-front payment for other appointments or surgery; others require up-front payment for all services
- the range of services offered
- the follow-up provided.
Cancer Council does not operate or recommend any skin cancer clinics, and does not recommend any individual specialists.
Podcast for people affected by cancer
A/Prof Stephen Shumack, Dermatologist, Royal North Shore Hospital and The University of Sydney, NSW; Dr Margaret Chua, Radiation Oncologist, Head of Radiation Oncology, Skin and Melanoma, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; John Clements, Consumer; Aoife Conway, Skin Lead and Radiation Oncology Nurse, GenesisCare, Mater Hospital, NSW; Sandra Donaldson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Kath Lockier, Consumer; Dr Isabel Gonzalez Matheus, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Principal House Officer, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; A/Prof Andrew Miller, Dermatologist, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Dr Helena Rosengren, Chair Research Committee, Skin Cancer College of Australasia, and Medical Director, Skin Repair Skin Cancer Clinic, QLD; Dr Michael Wagels, Staff Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Princess Alexandra Hospital and Surgical Treatment and Rehabilitation Service, and Senior Lecturer, The University of Queensland, QLD; David Woods, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.