Making treatment decisions
Skin cancers may be treated by GPs, dermatologists, surgeons and radiation oncologists.
Know your options
Be guided by your doctor and weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of different treatments.
Record the details
Many people like to take a relative or friend with them to appointments to join in the discussion, write notes or simply listen.
If you are confused or want to check anything, it is important to ask questions. Try to prepare a list before appointments.
It’s your decision
Adults have the right to accept or refuse any treatment offered by doctors and other health professionals.
If you have a partner, you may want to discuss the treatment options with them. Talking to friends and family, or to other people who have had similar experiences, may also be helpful. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to find out ways to connect with others for mutual support.
A second opinion
You may want to get a second opinion from another doctor to confirm or clarify your doctor’s recommendations, or to reassure you that you have explored all of your options. Doctors are used to people doing this.
Your doctor can refer you to another doctor and send your initial results to that person. You can get a second opinion even if you have started treatment or still want to be treated by your first doctor. You might decide you would prefer to be treated by the doctor who provided the second opinion.
|To find a dermatologist near you, visit Australasian College of Dermatologists.|
Should I join a clinical trial?
Your doctor or nurse may suggest you take part in a clinical trial. Doctors run clinical trials to test new or modified treatments and ways of diagnosing disease to see if they are better than current methods.
For example, if you join a randomised trial for a new treatment, you will be chosen at random to receive either the best existing treatment or the modified new treatment. Over the years, trials have improved treatments and led to better outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer.
You may find it helpful to talk to your specialist, clinical trials nurse or GP, or to get a second opinion. If you decide to take part in a clinical trial, you can withdraw at any time.
In this video, Medical Oncologist Dr Elizabeth Hovey explains what clinical trials are and how they can improve cancer treatment.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Prof Diona Damian, Dermatologist, The University of Sydney at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and Associate, Melanoma Institute of Australia, NSW; Dr Annie Ho, Radiation Oncologist, Genesis Care, Macquarie University, St Vincent’s and Mater Hospitals, NSW; Rebecca Johnson, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Melanoma Institute of Australia, NSW; Shannon Jones, SunSmart Health Professionals Coordinator, Cancer Council Victoria; Liz King, Skin Cancer Prevention Manager, Cancer Council NSW; Roslyn McCulloch, Consumer; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Paige Preston, Policy Advisor, Cancer Prevention, Health and Wellbeing, Cancer Council Queensland; Dr Michael Wagels, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment
Talk to someone who has experienced cancer
Work and cancer
Information for employees, employers and workplaces dealing with cancer